Jadis was formed by guitarist / vocalist Gary Chandler, and drummer Stephen Christey in the late 1980s. They quickly achieved notoriety by opening for IQ, and then Marillion on the “Clutching at Straws” tour. Steve Rothery was impressed enough to produce some demo tapes, which became very popular. As often happens during a band’s beginnings, members move on before the big break happens. Nick May became the new bass player, and Martin Orford shared some of his spare time from IQ to help out on keyboards. This lineup proved even more popular, and Jadis became headliners. Nick didn’t last very long, and they went to the IQ pool again to recruit John Jowitt.
Having established themselves as a prime live act over the course of several years, they felt it was finally time to record an album. 1992’s “More than Meets the Eye” became not only the band’s first release, but it was also the debut for Martin Orford’s new GEP label. The album was met with much acclaim, and even got some radio play. SI Magazine voted it ‘Album of the Year.’ Many still maintain that this is Jadis’ finest work.
They spent the next year concentrating more on a follow up than live work. Striking while the iron was hot was important, but they also had a reputation to protect. While working on the new album, they also wanted to keep interest alive. So, a mini CD called “Once Upon a Time” was offered. It was originally intended to start a series of discs dedicated to new recordings of the band’s early work. The second album, “Across the Water” was released in May 1994, and sold out the first pressing in ten days. Once again the critics were also on board. Classic Rock Society voted Jadis ‘Best Band,’ and “Across the Water” got ‘Album of the Year.’
By 1995, it was time for the “unofficial” members of the band to move on. The funny thing is, they didn’t leave just because of their commitment to IQ. John and Martin joined John Wetton’s band for his tour. Martin did stick around long enough to appear on one track from the 1996 EP “Once or Twice,” but Mike Torr was brought in as the new keyboardist. Steve Hunt came in to fill the bass slot. This lineup stayed intact for 1997’s “Somersault.” This album was also an opportunity for the band to go independent. They had a friendly split with GEP, and did “Somersault” on their own. It was distributed by Steve Rothery’s label, Dorian Music. This is also the point where the critical accolades start to fade. “Somersault” did not generate the type of enthusiasm the first albums had enjoyed. However, the live shows were still going strong. To capitalize on that, “As Daylight Fades” was released in 1998.
Shortly after the release of the live album, it was time for another lineup change. As luck would have it, Martin Orford was able to take his old spot back. By the time they were ready to get back to the studio, John Jowitt had also returned to complete the ‘classic’ Jadis lineup. In 2000, “Understand” was released. The IQ faction would never leave the ranks again.
Jadis released a box set in 2001 (largely made up of re-mastered versions of the previous EP tracks), another live disc, a third EP, a DVD, and continued to record studio albums. Comparisons to IQ are obvious, but the music tends to be more upbeat, and guitar driven. The fact that they are busy with other projects, no longer are the critics’ darlings, and Martin Orford’s ‘retirement’ from the music business, does not seem to deter them. The band appears to be going as strong as ever.