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Spontaneous Music Ensemble: Question And Answer 1966 [2 CDs] (Rhythm and Blues)

Exploring the roots of the SME, this illuminating disc presents a full concert from 1966 of an early configuration performing in a mode closer to what listeners might consider "jazz", from John Stevens (drums), Trevor Watts (sax), Paul Rutherford (trombone) and Bruce Cale (bass), plus a studio session from later that year and a 1/2 hour Q&A session discussing improvisation.
 

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product information:


UPC: 5060331752431

Label: Rhythm and Blues
Catalog ID: RANDB 068CD
Squidco Product Code: 30380

Format: 2 CDs
Condition: New
Released: 2021
Country: UK
Packaging: Jewel Case
Tracks 1-1 to 2-4 recorded at The Prince Albert, in Greenwich, London, UK, on June 22nd 1966.

Tracks 2-5 to 2-8 recorded in London, UK, on August 30th 1966.


Personnel:

Trevor Watts-alto saxophone

Bruce Cale-bass

John Stevens-drums, Glockenspiel

Paul Rutherford-trombone

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Artist Biographies:

"Trevor Charles Watts (born 26 February 1939 in York) is an English jazz and free-improvising alto and soprano saxophonist. He is largely self-taught, having taken up the cornet at age 12 then switched to saxophone at 18. While stationed in Germany with the RAF (1958-63), he encountered the drummer John Stevens and trombonist Paul Rutherford. After being demobbed he returned to London. In 1965 he and Stevens formed the Spontaneous Music Ensemble, which became one of the crucibles of British free improvisation. Watts left the band to form his own group Amalgam in 1967, then returned to SME for another stretch that lasted until the mid-1970s. Another key association was with the bassist Barry Guy and his London Jazz Composers' Orchestra, an association that lasted from the band's inception in the 1970s up to its (permanent?) disbandment in the mid-1990s.

Though he was initially strongly identified with the avant-garde, Watts is a versatile musician who has worked in everything from straight jazz contexts to rock and blues. His own projects have come increasingly to focus on blending jazz and African music, notably the Moiré Music ensemble which he has led since 1982 in configurations ranging from large ensembles featuring multiple drummers to more intimate trios. He has only occasionally recorded in freer modes in recent years, notably the CD 6 Dialogues, a duet album with Veryan Weston (the pianist in earlier editions of Moiré Music). A solo album, World Sonic, appeared on Hi4Head Records in 2005.

Watts has toured the world over numerous times, run workshops, received grants and commissions, and he has collaborated with some of the great jazz musicians including Archie Shepp, Steve Lacy, Don Cherry and Jayne Cortez. As of 2011, he continues to travel and toured North American with Veryan Weston."

-Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trevor_Watts)
10/20/2021

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.

"John William Stevens (10 June 1940 in Brentford, Middlesex - 13 September 1994 in Ealing, west London) was an English drummer. He was one of the most significant figures in early free improvisation, and a founding member of the Spontaneous Music Ensemble (SME).

Stevens was born in Brentford, the son of a tap dancer. He used to listen to jazz as a child, but was initially more interested in drawing and painting (media through which he also expressed himself throughout his life). He studied at the Ealing Art College and then started work in a design studio, but left at 19 to join the Royal Air Force. He studied the drums at the Royal Air Force School of Music in Uxbridge, and while there met Trevor Watts and Paul Rutherford, two musicians who became close collaborators.

In the mid-1960s Stevens began to play in London jazz groups alongside musicians like Tubby Hayes and Ronnie Scott, and in 1965 he fronted a septet. Influenced by the free jazz he was hearing coming out of the United States by players like Ornette Coleman and Albert Ayler, his style began to move away from fairly traditional be-bop to something more experimental.

In 1966 SME was formed with Watts and Rutherford and the group moved into the Little Theatre Club at Garrick Yard, St. Martin's Lane, London to develop their new music. In 1967 their first album, Challenge, was released. Stevens then became interested in the music of Anton Webern, and the SME began to play generally very quiet music. Stevens also became interested in non-Western musics.

The SME went on to make a large number of records with an ever changing line-up and an ever changing number of members, but Stevens was always there, at the centre of the group's activity. He also played in a number of other groups, drumming in Watts' group Amalgam and later forming bands like Freebop and Fast Colour, for example, but the SME remained at the centre of his activities.

In the latter part of 1967 Evan Parker joined the SME and worked closely with Stevens in the group, eventually becoming one of the longest standing members. He later summed up Stevens' approach to improvising in two basic maxims: if you can't hear another musician, then you're too loud; and there is no point in group improvisation if what you are playing doesn't relate to what other members of the group are playing.

Stevens also devised a number of basic starting points for improvisation. These were not "compositions" as such, but rather a means of getting improvisational activity started, which could then go off in any direction. One of these was the so-called "Click Piece" which essentially asked for each player to repeatedly play a note as short as possible.

Stevens played alongside a large number of prominent free improvisors in the SME, including Derek Bailey, Peter Kowald, Julie Tippetts and Robert Calvert, but from the mid-1970s, the make-up of the SME began to settle down to a regular group of Stevens, Nigel Coombes playing violin, and Roger Smith playing guitar. During the mid-1970s Stevens played regularly with guitarist and songwriter John Martyn as part of a trio that included bassist Danny Thompson. This line up can be heard on Martyn's 1976 recording Live at Leeds.

From 1983 Stevens was involved with Community Music (CM), an organisation through which he took his form of music making to youth clubs, mental health institutions and other unusual places. Notes taken during these sessions were later turned into a book for the Open University called Search and Reflect (1985). In the late 70s and early 80s John was a regular performer at the Bracknell Jazz Festival.

Aside from SME, Stevens also ran or helped to organise groups that were more jazz or jazz-rock based, such as Splinters, the John Stevens Dance Orchestra, Away, Freebop, Folkus, Fast Colour, PRS, and the John Stevens Quintet and Quartet. He also contributed significantly to Trevor Watts' group Amalgam and Frode Gjerstad's Detail, as well as collaborating with Bobby Bradford on several occasions.

The SME continued to play, the last time being in 1994 with a group including John Butcher. Stevens died later that year."

-Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Stevens_(drummer))
10/20/2021

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.

"Paul William Rutherford (29 February 1940 - 5 August 2007) was an English free improvising trombonist. Born in Greenwich, South East London, Rutherford initially played saxophone but switched to trombone. During the 1960s, he taught at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.

In 1970, Rutherford, guitarist Derek Bailey and bassist Barry Guy formed the improvising group Iskra 1903, which lasted until 1973. The formation was documented on a double album from Incus, later reissued with much bonus material on the 3-CD set Chapter One (Emanem, 2000). A film soundtrack was separately released as Buzz Soundtrack. Iskra 1903 was one of the earliest free improvising groups to omit a drummer/percussionist, permitting the players to explore a range of textures and dynamics which set it apart from such other contemporary improvising ensembles as SME and AMM. The group's unusual name is the Russian word for "spark"; it was the title of the Iskra revolutionary newspaper edited by Lenin. The "1903" designation means "20th century music for trio"; occasionally Evan Parker played with the group (Iskra 1904) and Rutherford also at one point assembled a 12-piece ensemble called, inevitably, Iskra 1912. The group was later revived with Philipp Wachsmann replacing Bailey, a phase of the group's life that lasted from roughly 1977 to 1995; its earlier work is documented on Chapter Two (Emanem, 2006) and its final recordings were issued on Maya (Iskra 1903) and Emanem (Frankfurt 1991).

Rutherford also played with Globe Unity Orchestra, London Jazz Composer's Orchestra, Centipede, the Mike Westbrook Orchestra, and the Orckestra, a merger of avant-rock group Henry Cow, the Mike Westbrook Brass Band and folk singer Frankie Armstrong. He also played a very small number of gigs with Soft Machine. He is perhaps most famous for solo trombone improvisations. His album The Gentle Harm of the Bourgeoisie is a landmark recording in solo trombone and his 1983 Trio album Gheim, recorded at the Bracknell Jazz Festival is another acclaimed work.

Rutherford died of cirrhosis of the liver and a ruptured aorta on 5 August 2007, aged 67."

-Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Rutherford_(trombonist))
10/20/2021

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.
track listing:


CD1



1. Unknown Title 6:22

2. Give Me That Old Time Perversion 12:05

3. You Can Be Happy 9:47

4. Judy's Smile 9:20

5. Questions And Answers 32:00 CD2



1. Themeless Improvisation 13:31

2. Chant 7:05

3. Little Red Head 7:56

4. Day of Reckoning 17:41

5. Judy's Smile 5:54

6. Unknown Title 2:02

7. Bruce's Departure 6:14

8. Peaceful Farewell 7:11
sample the album:








descriptions, reviews, &c.

"If there was one sound guaranteed to shock in British jazz during 1966 it was that of the Spontaneous Music Ensemble, the free-improvising collective centered around drummer John Stevens which that year helped establish London's Little Theatre Club as a stronghold of the "new wave". Although the avant-garde were slow in gaining a toe-hold on British jazz tastes, every so often a grass roots jazz club would take a chance on the new style, such as the night in June 1966 when the SME alighted on Greenwich's Prince Albert pub, eager to deliver their message to fresh ears.

This CD set contains all the music played that night plus a 30-minute Q andA session, creating what must surely be one of the most important early documents of British "free" jazz. Disc two also adds a studio-taped session from later that year. Both sets are previously unissued and both are essential listening for those interested in the course of modern jazz development within the UK. 12-page booklet with notes bySimon Spillett."-Rhythm And Blues Records



"The Spontaneous Music Ensemble enjoys mythical status, not least among free jazz devotees. Its driving force, drummer John Stevens, determined early in his career to focus upon 'free' and 'improvised' music. From the mid-sixties until his untimely death in 1994, Stevens' story is one of creative achievement with little in the way of financial reward.

London's Little Theatre Club supported the attempts of Stevens and others to forge a new music at a time when precious few other venues were willing to do so. The Prince Albert in Greenwich did offer the SME a gig (June 22 to be precise), the session was recorded and it forms the basis of Question and Answer 1966, a two-disc release from Rhythm and Blues Records. Stevens teamed up with like-minded souls Trevor Watts, alto sax, Paul Rutherford, trombone, and bassist Bruce Cale to explore the possibilities of a new approach to music first signalled by Ornette Coleman. Their efforts on the night of June 22, in a typical pub setting, were committed to tape and it is only now that we can hear the previously unreleased material.

Disc one comprises some thirty eight minutes of music followed by a lengthy Q & A played out against a low level hubbub punctuated by the ringing of the pub's cash register. The music comprises four tracks: two by unknown composers (the first of them titled Unknown) and two by Watts. If you were present on the night and didn't take notes it's unlikely that some fifty five years later you'll be able to recall in detail the titles of the improvisations! The music could be described as regulation high octane free jazz interspersed with moments of quiet reflection.

Disc two features more from the Prince Albert and a session at an unknown London recording studio dated August 30, 1966. A lack of discographical information adds to the romance of it all, The question and answer session will appeal to the serious student of improvised music: a combination of earnest, inquiring minds and the musicians' considered, yet informal responses, sketch a picture of musician and audience experiencing a counter culture happening. The SME's improvisations will meet with the approval of the free jazz/improv aficionado."-Russell, bebop spoken here


Get additional information at BeBop Spoken Here Blog
Related Categories of Interest:


Improvised Music
Free Improvisation
Jazz
London & UK Improv & Related Scenes
Quartet Recordings
New in Improvised Music
Recent Releases and Best Sellers
Staff Picks & Recommended Items


Other Releases With These Artists:
Gjerstad, Frode / Kent Carter / John Stevens
Detail-90 [VINYL]
(NoBusiness)
Watts, Trevor (feat. Moire Music Drum Orchestra / Mark Hewins / Jamie Harris / Gibran Cervantes)
A World View [5 CDs]
(Listen! Foundation (Fundacja Sluchaj!))
Kowald, Peter Quintet
Peter Kowald Quintet
(Corbett vs. Dempsey)
Evangelista, Karl (w/ Alexander Hawkins / Louis Moholo-Moholo / Trevor Watts)
Apura! [2 CDs]
(Astral Spirits)
Stevens, John
Search and Reflect [BOOK]
(Rockschool)
Watts, Trevor Quartet The (Veryan Weston / John Edwards / Marc Sanders)
The Real Intention - Cafe OTO concert
(Listen! Foundation (Fundacja Sluchaj!))
Bradford, Bobby / Frode Gjerstad / Kent Carter / John Stevens
Blue Cat [VINYL]
(NoBusiness)
Detail (Frode Gjerstad / Johnny Mbizo Dyani / John Stevens)
Day Two
(NoBusiness)
Mengelberg, Misha / Peter Brotzmann / Evan Parker / Peter Bennink / Paul Rutherford / Derek Bailey / Han Bennink
Groupcomposing
(Corbett vs. Dempsey)
Watts / Weston / Sanders / Edwards
Hear Now: A Film by Mark French [DVD]
(FMR)
Watts, Trevor / Stephen Grew Duo
All There Is
(Discus)
Spontaneous Music Ensemble
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(Emanem)
Watts, Trevor / Stephen Grew
Con Fluent
(FMR)
Spontaneous Music Orchestra
For You To Share
(Emanem)
Oxley, Tony with Bailey / Rutherford / Thomas / &c.
A Birthday Tribute - 75 Years
(Incus)
Spontaneous Music Ensemble
Summer 1967
(Emanem)
Stevens / Rutherford / Parker / Guy
One Four and Two Twos (1978/79/92)
(Emanem)
Rutherford / Muller / Eisenstadt
The Zone
(Konnex)
Stevens, John Trio
Live at The Plough
(Ayler)
Gjerstad, Frode / John Stevens
Let's Just Keep Going
(FMR)
Watts, Trevor Drum Orchestra
Burundi Monday
(FMR)
Coxhill, Lol / Mueller, Torsten / Rutherford, Paul
Milwaukee
(Emanem)
Recommended & Related Releases:
Watts, Trevor (feat. Moire Music Drum Orchestra / Mark Hewins / Jamie Harris / Gibran Cervantes)
A World View [5 CDs]
(Listen! Foundation (Fundacja Sluchaj!))
Kowald, Peter Quintet
Peter Kowald Quintet
(Corbett vs. Dempsey)
Evangelista, Karl (w/ Alexander Hawkins / Louis Moholo-Moholo / Trevor Watts)
Apura! [2 CDs]
(Astral Spirits)
Stevens, John
Search and Reflect [BOOK]
(Rockschool)
Watts, Trevor Quartet The (Veryan Weston / John Edwards / Marc Sanders)
The Real Intention - Cafe OTO concert
(Listen! Foundation (Fundacja Sluchaj!))
Bradford, Bobby / Frode Gjerstad / Kent Carter / John Stevens
Blue Cat [VINYL]
(NoBusiness)
Watts / Weston / Sanders / Edwards
Hear Now: A Film by Mark French [DVD]
(FMR)
Watts, Trevor / Stephen Grew Duo
All There Is
(Discus)
Watts, Trevor / Stephen Grew
Con Fluent
(FMR)
Gjerstad, Frode / John Stevens
Let's Just Keep Going
(FMR)
Watts, Trevor Drum Orchestra
Burundi Monday
(FMR)
Coxhill, Lol / Mueller, Torsten / Rutherford, Paul
Milwaukee
(Emanem)
Other Recommended Releases:
Gjerstad, Frode / Kent Carter / John Stevens
Detail-90 [VINYL]
(NoBusiness)
Detail (Frode Gjerstad / Johnny Mbizo Dyani / John Stevens)
Day Two
(NoBusiness)
Mengelberg, Misha / Peter Brotzmann / Evan Parker / Peter Bennink / Paul Rutherford / Derek Bailey / Han Bennink
Groupcomposing
(Corbett vs. Dempsey)
Spontaneous Music Ensemble
Withdrawal (1966/7)[REISSUE]
(Emanem)
Spontaneous Music Orchestra
For You To Share
(Emanem)
Oxley, Tony with Bailey / Rutherford / Thomas / &c.
A Birthday Tribute - 75 Years
(Incus)
Spontaneous Music Ensemble
Summer 1967
(Emanem)
Stevens / Rutherford / Parker / Guy
One Four and Two Twos (1978/79/92)
(Emanem)
Rutherford / Muller / Eisenstadt
The Zone
(Konnex)
Stevens, John Trio
Live at The Plough
(Ayler)



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