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CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Spontaneous Music Ensemble: Oliv & Familie

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Issued twenty years after his death, aged just fifty-four, Oliv & Familie serves as a fitting reminder of the Spontaneous Music Ensemble's charismatic and controversial drummer and leader, John Stevens. Not only does this release return to circulation the two “Oliv" tracks that constituted the SME's eponymous third album, originally issued on vinyl by Giorgio Gomelsky's Marmalade label in 1969, it also adds the two previously unissued “Familie" tracks which shed much light on the ensemble's evolution and development. Most ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Spontaneous Music Ensemble: New Surfacing 1978 & 1992

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This album offers a snapshot of the post-1976 version of the legendary free-jazz improvisational unit, Spontaneous Music Ensemble's (SME) reign as a quartet. Two thirds of the material is derived from performances by the guitar-violin-percussion rendition, captured at a 1978 concert in Newcastle, England. It was previously released on Trio & Triangle (Emanem, 1978) but the recording quality was less than desirable, emanating as it did from a cassette tape. Producer Martin Davidson cleaned it up, yet eventually tracked down ...

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Contrasting Faces of Spontaneous Music Ensemble

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For years, the Emanem label has had so many releases by Spontaneous Music Ensemble in its catalogue that it has become the de facto guardian of the SME legacy, the keeper of the flame. Although there have been excellent SME recordings on other labels--Karyobin (Island, 1968; Chronoscope, 1993) and Spontaneous Music Ensemble (Marmalade, 1969; Polydor, 1972) spring to mind--no other label's SME releases match the breadth, depth, richness and variety of those on Emanem. As well as seeking ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Spontaneous Music Ensemble & Orchestra: Trio & Triangle

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Given the quantity of SME music released by Emanem, cynics might be thinking that quality control must have slipped, that the barrel is being scraped. Miraculously, nothing could be further from the truth. Each new release adds to the body of work available, shedding further light on the exploits of John Stevens' multifaceted ensemble, and putting the whole into sharper perspective. Trio & Triangle is no exception, matching the high standard set by other recent SME releases.

The first three ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Spontaneous Music Ensemble: Bare Essentials 1972-3

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John Stevens and Trevor Watts are vitally important in the history of the Spontaneous Music Ensemble (and so of improvised music) but the only previous album of the duo alone is Face to Face (Emanem, 1974). From 1968 to 1976 the two often were the SME. But when recording opportunities came up, Stevens usually opted for an expanded version rather than this minimal version. However, from 1970 onwards, Watts recorded SME performances onto cassette tapes. This release comes from his ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Spontaneous Music Ensemble: Frameworks

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All of the freely improvised music collected here is previously unissued and, to the best of my knowledge, only the duo of percussionist John Stevens and reed player Trevor Watts has been extensively documented on record before now, notably on Face To Face (Emanem, 1973). The duo is featured on “Flower here. The piece was recorded in the same period as the music on Face to Face and it's in the same austere and minimal vein.

The thirty minutes plus ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Spontaneous Music Ensemble: Quintessence

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After releasing this music on two LPs and then on two CDs, Emanem now re-release it on a double CD. In the process, the performances are put into a more sensible order. The vast bulk of their 1974 ICA concert (seventy-five out of the eight-five minutes) is now together on one CD. This concert featured the “superstar" line-up of John Stevens, Evan Parker, Trevor Watts, Derek Bailey and Kent Carter, not the usual SME line up of the time.

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Spontaneous Music Ensemble: Frameworks

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Increasingly, the Spontaneous Music Ensemble recordings released on Emanem (which now number ten CDs, not including Spontaneous Music Orchestra releases) resemble the pieces of a large and intricate jigsaw puzzle. The recordings span some twenty-eight years, at least twenty-five recording occasions ("sessions not being the appropriate word) and numerous line-ups--John Stevens being the only ever-present participant.

Despite this proliferation, each new release brings fresh insights into this vital and pioneering group. This CD adds three more key pieces to the ...



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