The members of this group are pretty spectacular - though at that time, only the truly devoted took notice. The Spontaneous Music Ensemble was the brainchild of the pioneering British drummer John Stevens and a bit of history is provided at emanemdisc.com.
John Stevens (1940-1994) and Trevor Watts (b. 1939) first met in 1959 when they (and Paul Rutherford) were in the Royal Air Force. They re-met in 1965, when Stevens became the drummer in the quintet co-led by Watts and Rutherford (trombone). With the opening of the Little Theatre Club at the beginning of 1966, that group became the Spontaneous Music Ensemble (SME). The personnel evolved over the next year. Early in 1967 Stevens had become the sole leader, and the other members were Watts, Rutherford, Kenny Wheeler (trumpet), Evan Parker (saxophone), Derek Bailey (guitar) and Barry Guy. By the middle of that year, with a change of musical direction to the beginning of what is generally considered SME music, the group had reduced to the duo of Stevens and Parker, with other musicians added on an ad hoc basis.
As Chilly Jay Chill of destination-out.com commented: "The Spontaneous Music Ensemble were 35 years ahead of the curve. And conjuring their necromancy in real time with actual musicians. Not that one approach is better, just that the live aspect gives SMEs experiments a different flava."
According to allaboutjazz.com, the Spontaneous Music Ensemble championed free improvisation as a form of musical expression. "Everything about the music, right down to the sheer volume of it, is the product of the moment, and a consequence of this is that the task of gauging precisely what is going on is made reasonably straightforward. Rhythm and tempo are both irrelevant to music of this kind, and such is the alertness and responsiveness of the musicians involved that the music frequently takes on a contemplative air in a way not far removed from chamber music for all of the idiomatic differences and the antithetical approach. Solos too are sacrificed in pursuit of a group ethic that makes of ultimate importance the overall sound."
Thanks to notreally for sharing the tracks and for extracting the information below from Paul Wilson's John Stevens discogaphy at http://efi.group.shef.ac.uk/mstdisc1.html.
Juicy (from the unreleased
Willow Trio - Part
If you enjoy free jazz, this should knock your socks off.
Click on the highlighted
tracks to download the MP3s (these are high quality, stereo MP3s - sample
rate of 192 kibit/s). As far as we can ascertain, these tracks have never
been officially released.
Click on the link to order Spontaneous Music Ensemble releases.
For more... email [email protected] with the message, "Put me on your mailing list."