121

Spontaneous Music Ensemble: Challenge (1966-7)

John Eyles By

Sign in to view read count
Spontaneous Music Ensemble: Challenge (1966-7) These recordings are of historical importance. More importantly, they are a good listen.

They are the earliest available recordings of the Spontaneous Music Ensemble, dating from March 1966 and (one track, previously unissued) April 1967. They were issued briefly on LP in 1966. The recordings capture free improvisation at the point in time when it was diverging from free jazz but when the two were still close enough to be obviously related. Over the next two years, largely because of nightly musical explorations and experiments at the Little Theatre Club in central London, SME's music evolved rapidly. (Compare this release with Karyobin, recorded in 1968, for evidence.)

In 1966, SME were still playing compositions credited to individual members, rather than free improvisations credited to all those involved. The rhythm section was still relatively conventional. John Stevens was still playing a standard drum kit, rather than the small SME kit he would soon adopt. As the 1966 sleeve notes proudly proclaimed of the music, "It swings." This music clearly shows the influence of Americans like Coltane, Coleman and Dolphy. Indeed, the opening pieces (by Watts and Rutherford, respectively), "E.D.'s Message" and "2.B. Ornette," openly acknowledge the influence.

There are also hints of the future, though. On "Little Red Head" and "End of a Beginning" there are early signs of the SME's later, freer music but they still have a clearly agreed structure. And the 1967 track, "Distant Little Soul" sees the debut of Evan Parker, who would play a pivotal role in the development of free improv.

Over the next quarter of a century, SME would radically alter the face of improvised music, making it into something distinct from jazz and into a recognisably European form. This CD marks the start of that process. It makes fascinating listening.


Track Listing: E. D.'s Message; 2. B. Ornette; Club 66; Day of Reckoning; End of a Beginning (previously unissued take); Travelling Together; Litle Red Head; After Listening; End of a Beginning; Distant Little Soul.

Personnel: For tracks 1-9: Kenny Wheeler, flugelhorn (tracks 1-3 & 6-9); Paul Rutherford, trombone; Trevor Watts, alto saxophone (all except 9), soprano saxophone (9 only); Bruce Cale, double bass (2-8); Jeff Clyne, double bass (1 & 9); John Stevens, drums & cymbals (except 7). For track 10: Trevor Watts, piccolo, alto saxophone; Evan Parker, soprano saxophone; Chris Cambridge, double bass; John Stevens, drums & cymbals.

Year Released: 2002 | Record Label: Emanem


Shop

More Articles

Read Fellowship CD/LP/Track Review Fellowship
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 22, 2017
Read E.S.T. Symphony CD/LP/Track Review E.S.T. Symphony
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 22, 2017
Read June CD/LP/Track Review June
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 22, 2017
Read The Invariant CD/LP/Track Review The Invariant
by Mark Sullivan
Published: February 22, 2017
Read Akua's Dance CD/LP/Track Review Akua's Dance
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 21, 2017
Read Daylight Ghosts CD/LP/Track Review Daylight Ghosts
by Mark Sullivan
Published: February 21, 2017
Read "Leaving Everything Behind" CD/LP/Track Review Leaving Everything Behind
by Dave Wayne
Published: July 4, 2016
Read "Wonders" CD/LP/Track Review Wonders
by Mark F. Turner
Published: August 12, 2016
Read "Espiritu Zombi" CD/LP/Track Review Espiritu Zombi
by Mark Corroto
Published: August 22, 2016
Read "Mount Meander" CD/LP/Track Review Mount Meander
by John Sharpe
Published: November 19, 2016
Read "New World" CD/LP/Track Review New World
by Roger Farbey
Published: March 9, 2016
Read "Real Talk" CD/LP/Track Review Real Talk
by Mark Sullivan
Published: May 20, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!