Learn How

Help improve All About Jazz

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz needs your help and we have a deal. For $20, we'll hide those pesky Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

6

Spontaneous Music Ensemble: New Surfacing 1978 & 1992

Glenn Astarita By

Sign in to view read count
Spontaneous Music Ensemble: New Surfacing 1978 & 1992 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.

Year Released: 2013 | Record Label: Emanem


Shop

More Articles

Read Binary CD/LP/Track Review Binary
Read Piano Song CD/LP/Track Review Piano Song
Read Tales & Tones CD/LP/Track Review Tales & Tones
Read Elegy CD/LP/Track Review Elegy
Read "Cornua Copiae" CD/LP/Track Review Cornua Copiae
Read "Heavy Feel" CD/LP/Track Review Heavy Feel
Read "Find Your Wings" CD/LP/Track Review Find Your Wings
Read "Cool" CD/LP/Track Review Cool
Read "Concentric Circles" CD/LP/Track Review Concentric Circles
Read "Flux" CD/LP/Track Review Flux

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Get Jazz Near You via email!

Enjoy the convenience of receiving a comprehensive listing of jazz events in your area every Thursday. It's free!