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Daily articles carefully curated by the All About Jazz staff. Read our popular and future articles.

ALBUM REVIEW

Spontaneous Music Ensemble: Karyobin

Read "Karyobin" reviewed by John Eyles

Karyōbin is a crucially important album in the history and development of freely improvised music. Originally studio-recorded in February 1968 and issued as an Island Records LP later that year, it was remastered and re-released on CD by Chronoscope in 1993. Fine as the music was, both of those issues suffered from less than ideal sound balance, particularly of the bass and drums. Now, just in time for the fiftieth anniversary of the album's recording, Evan Parker's favourite sound engineer, ...

ALBUM REVIEW

Spontaneous Music Ensemble: Oliv & Familie

Read "Oliv & Familie" reviewed by John Eyles

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 ...

ALBUM REVIEW

Spontaneous Music Ensemble: New Surfacing 1978 & 1992

Read "New Surfacing 1978 & 1992" reviewed by Glenn Astarita

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 ...

MULTIPLE REVIEWS

Contrasting Faces of Spontaneous Music Ensemble

Read "Contrasting Faces of Spontaneous Music Ensemble" reviewed by John Eyles

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 ...

ALBUM REVIEW

Spontaneous Music Ensemble & Orchestra: Trio & Triangle

Read "Trio & Triangle" reviewed by John Eyles

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 ...

ALBUM REVIEW

Spontaneous Music Ensemble: Bare Essentials 1972-3

Read "Bare Essentials 1972-3" reviewed by John Eyles

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 ...

ALBUM REVIEW

Spontaneous Music Ensemble: Frameworks

Read "Frameworks" reviewed by Nic Jones

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 ...


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