Spontaneous Music Ensemble: New Surfacing 1978 & 1992 (2013)
The Newcastle concert, containing tracks "Newcastle 78A" and "Newcastle 78B," was performed in a space that spawned a bit of reverberation, offering a somewhat unintended depth and distance, but the recording quality is adequate. Nevertheless, the trio's astonishing intuitiveness comes to light. Nigel Coombes often bridges the proceedings between his cohorts as John Stevens is a tireless multitasking machine, performing on various percussion implements amid a few vocal antics.
The musicians' intersecting subplots occur within frenetic and oscillating passages, along with some pathos enacted by Stevens' cornet and mini-trumpet choruses. Smith's nimble picking often shades or underscores the holistic element, spanning high-spirited dialogues and vastly expressive interactions. Indeed, the group's synergy is framed on lightning fast interpretations, responses and reactionary measures.
On "Complete Surfaces"which is the output of a 1992 studio sessionthe trio infuses more of the same, running the gamut of what is humanly possible for three men to accomplish within a half-hour. Moreover, the artists' collaborative sense of the dynamic could be evaluated with an oscilloscope, or so it may seem. As anticipated, these archival recordings once again provide credence to SME's imaginative compass that, among other positives, was an educational institution in itself.
Track Listing: Newcastle 78A; Newcastle 78B; Complete Surfaces.
Personnel: John Stevens: percussion, cornet, mini-trumpet, voice; Nigel Coombes: violin; Roger Smith: guitar.
Record Label: Emanem