Despite the fact that John Edwards took part in the recording of over 100 albums, it is hard to find in the web’s maze of information about him, in terms of popularity in a certain browser he definitely loses out to an American senator (points for sex scandal), Status Quo bass guitarist and many other John Edwards present on Wikipedia. It is known, however, that the activity connected with radically improvised music has nothing to do with the popularity contest.
The information gathered only creates a brief outline of the beginnings of John’s musical activity. In an interview with Sammy Stein (the whole article available in AllAboutJazz), Edwards talks about how, when he announced „Bambi” as a child, he was fascinated by the soundtrack of the film, especially the low notes, which gave it a special drama. When his older brother starts playing the drums, John mimics him by winning the rhythms on the chair. Later he observes his brother’s punk band’s concerts, and starts experimenting himself, searching for sounds even on the old ukulelele.
John is a student of art school, and at an early age he is sure that he hasn’t been assigned a desk job. He starts playing bass guitar and leaves his family home at the age of 18. He constantly listens to music (jazz, folk, classical, Indian, Arabic music, everything that inspires him). When he is 22, his grandmother dies and John Edwards buys the first double bass for the inheritance he receives (a staggering £350).
From that moment on, he learns, exercises his passion and begins to gain a reputation in the London community. Interestingly enough, Edwards has learned to play the game in a completely intuitive way and only then will he learn to read and write notes. Perhaps that’s why his playing is characterized by an indomitable imagination and a very physical approach to the instrument, an excellent technique, probably, was born later as a result of years of hard work and constant gaining experience. Aptly described in the description of the „volume” album (about her later) Marek Tuszyński writes that Edwards does not so much play „on” double bass as „with” double bass.
The first recordings with Edwards are a mixture of an avant-garde and anarchist approach and punk energy. Edwards founded Pointy Birds in 1987 (they won the award for music for The Cholmondeleys and Featherstonehaughs dance groups), he also plays with Jon Dobie and Steve Blake in GOD and B’Shops For The Poor formations (the latter recorded with Peterm Brotzmann in 1992). Fragments of the band’s recordings on the Internet sound radical rock, dark, full of guitar noise and saxophone (and vocal) screams.
At the same time, Edwards is gaining a growing reputation on the London improvised music scene and it can be said that since 1995 he has been one of its most important representatives, playing with the British improvisation school’s „who’s who”. Edwards’ travel companions include Lol Coxhill, Evan Parker, Veryan Weston, Paul Dunmall, Kenny Wheeler, Phil Minton and others. He has recorded with the Sunny Murray Trio and Louis Moholo-Moholo.