The Spontaneous Music Ensemble - Question and Answer 1966

2 CD set

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2021 CD collection.

Recorded in the same year that drummer John Stevens' Spontaneous Music Ensemble released their debut LP Challenge on the obscure Earmark label, these sonic shadows offer up the opportunity to hear an early SME line-up in action in front of an enthusiastic and inquisitive audience.

After an opening set where the group unfurl a selection of near straight-ahead modern jazz themed improvisational pieces, with various solo contributions from the players scattered throughout, the remaining 32 minutes of Disc One is taken up with a question and answer session with the audience.

Among topics discussed are the group's working methods, the possible influence of classical music and salutary mentions to such fellow musicians as Ornette Coleman, Sonny Rollins, Albert Ayler and AMM saxophone player Lou Gare. Although it could easily be dismissed as a filler track, the ensuing dialogue offers valuable insight into the emerging 1960s UK improv scene and how groups like SME and AMM were being accepted as part of the then escalating counterculture.

Whereas Disc One feels like they were slightly holding back, Disc Two opens up with an unfettered experimental roar as SME tear into ‘Themeless Improvisation’. This is followed by Stevens' tenderly hypnotic ‘Chant’ with Trevor Watts weaving the sound from his saxophone like a snake charmer.

Elsewhere, ‘Little Red Head' and Watts’ lengthy ‘Day of Reckoning’ bring the set to a satisfyingly buoyant close, with a particularly sturdy performance from former Tubby Hayes bass player Bruce Cale rumbling in the background like an approaching storm. The remaining tracks are studio recordings (minus trombone player Paul Rutherford) from the same period, all of which reveal a group that was embracing and rolling with the shock of the new.

Edwin Pouncey ~


SKU 5060331752431
Barcode # 5060331752431
Brand rhythm and blues records uk

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