All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

7

Spontaneous Music Ensemble: New Surfacing 1978 & 1992

Glenn Astarita By

Sign in to view read count
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 the master copy on reel-to-reel, marking a significant audio improvement evidenced on this release. The third piece, "Complete Surfaces," was culled from a London concert in 1992 and partially issued in 1994 by the Konnex record label.

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 session—the 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.

Title: New Surfacing 1978 & 1992 | Year Released: 2013 | Record Label: Emanem

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

CD/LP/Track Review
Multiple Reviews
CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Karyobin

Karyobin

Emanem
2017

buy
 

New Surfacing

Not On Label (Spontaneous Sound Self-released)
2013

buy

Related Articles

Read You'd Be So Nice To Come Home To CD/LP/Track Review
You'd Be So Nice To Come Home To
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 24, 2018
Read We Out Here CD/LP/Track Review
We Out Here
by Chris May
Published: February 24, 2018
Read Best of the Bootlegs 2017 CD/LP/Track Review
Best of the Bootlegs 2017
by Doug Collette
Published: February 24, 2018
Read The Asylum Years CD/LP/Track Review
The Asylum Years
by Doug Collette
Published: February 24, 2018
Read Solo Contra CD/LP/Track Review
Solo Contra
by Daniel Barbiero
Published: February 24, 2018
Read Ellipse CD/LP/Track Review
Ellipse
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 23, 2018
Read "Rising Tide" CD/LP/Track Review Rising Tide
by Geannine Reid
Published: May 16, 2017
Read "Fountain Of Youth" CD/LP/Track Review Fountain Of Youth
by David A. Orthmann
Published: July 15, 2017
Read "Live at the High Noon" CD/LP/Track Review Live at the High Noon
by Doug Collette
Published: June 22, 2017
Read "There Is No Love" CD/LP/Track Review There Is No Love
by Phil Barnes
Published: July 18, 2017
Read "Ultimate Hits" CD/LP/Track Review Ultimate Hits
by Doug Collette
Published: September 17, 2017
Read "Formidable" CD/LP/Track Review Formidable
by Victor L. Schermer
Published: November 24, 2017