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Spontaneous Music Ensemble: New Surfacing (1978/92) (Emanem)

Two recordings from the beginning and the end of the longest-lived version of the SME - the trio of John Stevens (percussion, cornet or mini-trumpet, voice), Nigel Coombes (violin) & Roger Smith (guitar).

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product information:

UPC: 5030243503025

Label: Emanem
Catalog ID: 5030
Squidco Product Code: 17835

Format: CD
Condition: New
Released: 2013
Country: Great Britain
Packaging: Cardstock gatefold foldover
Recorded by Jolyon Laycock in Newcastle-upon-Tyne on November 17th, 1978. Recorded by Richie Stevens in London on August 18th, 1992. The original issues on Emanem 4150 and Konnex KCD 5049 were taken from cassettes. This reissue, taken from the original tapes, has considerably improved sound and about 8 more minutes of music.


John Stevens-percussion, cornet, mini-trumpet, voice

Nigel Coombes-violin

Roger Smith-guitar

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Artist Biographies:

Roger Smith is a British guitarist known for his work with London Musicians' Collective, his duo with Neil Metcalfe, plus duos with Adam Bohman, Louis Moholo-Moholo, Pascal Marzan, etc.

-Squidco 5/10/2021

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

1. Newcastle 78A 9:18

2. Newcastle 78B 22:53

3. Complete Surfaces 31:46
sample the album:

descriptions, reviews, &c.

"Two recordings from the beginning and the end of the longest-lived version of the SME - the trio of John Stevens (percussion, cornet or mini-trumpet, voice), Nigel Coombes (violin) & Roger Smith (guitar). The 1978 Newcastle concert was considered by the musicians and others to be the best performance by the trio, while the 1992 studio is also very fine."-Emanem

Excerpts from sleeve notes (MARTIN DAVIDSON (2013)):

"This release containing recordings from 1978 and 1992 could be subtitled the beginning and the end of the SME string trio. The Newcastle concert was one of the first performances after the 1977 quartet reduced to a trio; and Nigel Coombes left the studio and the SME immediately after the 1992 piece.

The SME had changed radically during 1976 ending up with John Stevens playing with unamplified string players Nigel Coombes, Roger Smith and Colin Wood - the last named being on board just for the first year or so.

Most of the recordings of the trio were not released until after Stevens' untimely death. The later 1990s, saw the release of two compilations on Emanem CDs, HOT AND COLD HEROES (4008) and LOW PROFILE (4031). When compiling these, I was strongly advised to consider a 1978 Newcastle concert from a brief tour opposite the duo of Steve Beresford and Tristan Honsinger. Both Coombes and Smith consider this concert to have been one of the best performances by the trio.

The drawback was that the only copy of this recording then available was a distorted cassette. There was no sign of the original tape. An additional problem was that the performance was in an over-resonant room. At the time, I decided that the recording was too bad to issue, even though the music was very fine. I subsequently gave up trying to find a better source, but managed to clean up the sound considerably, and eventually issued it on TRIO & TRIANGLE (4150) in 2008. Most of that CD though was a reissue of a 1981 concert mainly featuring a larger group.

Meanwhile, some years ago, unbeknownst to everyone I had managed to contact, several tapes languishing in a Newcastle studio were rescued by Mick Sharp just before they were to be thrown into a skip. One of these was the original tape of the SME Newcastle concert. When Sharp moved house, he asked Rhodri Davies to give the tapes to Karen Brookman. She informed Steve Beresford, and he passed the information on to me because I had recently released a poor quality version of the SME music. Many thanks to all the people in this chain, even though the tape arrived just too late!

The sound from the reel-to-reel tape, while still imperfect, is much better than that possible from the cassette. The main advantage is the almost total lack of distortion and unwanted noise. Hence this much more listenable second edition.

One trio recording that was issued fairly promptly was the final studio date, although for some reason the released version was taken from a cassette copy and shortened. This was used as a filler on a Konnex CD of Stevens' 4, 4, 4, session (recently reissued on Emanem 5027). A while ago, Roger Smith gave me this material on a DAT, and it turned out to be considerably clearer and somewhat longer then the previously released version. So it can now be heard in higher fidelity, with a sound that is much drier and hence more intimate than the Newcastle concert."

This album has been reviewed on our magazine:

The Squid
The Squid's Ear!
Related Categories of Interest:

EMANEM & psi

Improvised Music
Free Improvisation
London & UK Improv & Related Scenes
Trio Recordings
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