SPONTANEOUS MUSIC ENSEMBLE & ORCHESTRA

TRIO & TRIANGLE

EMANEM 4150

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JOHN STEVENS cornet, percussion, voice
NIGEL COOMBES violin
ROGER SMITH guitar
MAGGIE NICOLS voice (1, 3)
JON CORBETT trumpet (1, 3)
ALAN TOMLINSON trombone (1, 3)
PAUL RUTHERFORD euphonium (1), trombone (3)
LOL COXHILL soprano saxophone (1, 3)
TREVOR WATTS soprano saxophone (1, 3)
HOWARD RILEY piano (3)
 

1 - TRIANGLE - 23:57
2 - RECIPROCAL - 14:54
3 - A fragment of STATIC - 5:31

4 - NEWCASTLE 78A - 9:24
5 - NEWCASTLE 78B - 23:01

All analogue concert recordings:
1 - 3: London (Notre Dame Hall) by Gareth Jones
1981 May 8
4 - 5: Newcastle-upon-Tyne by Jolyon Laycock
1978 November 17
Total time 77:19

1 - 3 originally issued in 1982 as SFA LP 112
4 - 5 previously unissued - these two tracks have subsequently been reissued with much better sound on Emanem 5030

 

Excerpts from sleeve notes:

The SME changed radically in 1976 ending up with John Stevens playing with unamplified string players Nigel Coombes and Roger Smith. (Cellist Colin Wood was also on board for the first year or so.) This group was announced to the world by the release of the 1977 BIOSYSTEM. The end of the group was announced by their very last performance, a 1992 studio piece called Surfaces that appeared on a Konnex CD. The only other post-1976 SME release issued before Stevensí untimely death in 1994 was SME + SMO IN CONCERT which is reissued on this CD.

Most of this LP was given over to a larger group, the SMO performing Triangle, one of Stevensí didactic works that appeared in his SEARCH & REFLECT manual. The basic version of this piece is for three musicians seated in a triangle, listening and responding to the other two as a stereo pair, and using their own instrument somewhat unconsciously as a sound source for the other two to listen to. The extended version of this piece, heard here, has a triangle of triangles (nine musicians), in which one expands from listening to oneís own triangle to listening to the other two triangles, and thence on to a free group improvisation.

The other orchestra track is an extract from Static, a variant of Stevensí earlier Sustained Piece. The trio can be heard by itself on Reciprocal making what must then have been some of the quietest music around.

MARTIN DAVIDSON (2007)

 

Excerpts from reviews:

"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 tracks here were recorded in 1981, and released on LP. Reciprocal focuses on the trio; the piece is fifteen minutes of intensely concentrated simultaneous improvisation, performed at very low volume. The intensity of the music means that the evident concentration of the players is matched by that required of the listener, but the music richly repays said listener's investment of time. For Triangle, Stevens' methodology for the piece was that 'the three musicians are seated in a triangle, each listening and responding to the other two as a stereo pair, and using their own instrument somewhat unconsciously as a sound piece for the other two to listen to.' The version of Triangle here extend the same method to a triangle of triangles, involving nine musicians (hence, SMO rather than SME). For a grouping of this size, the results are extraordinary, displaying none of the incoherent chatter that too often typifies such large improvising ensembles; instead, with no obvious leadership, the music ebbs & flows and swirls & eddies in an organic fashion, with rises and falls in pitch and volume occurring as naturally as breathing."

JOHN EYLES - ALL ABOUT JAZZ 2008

 

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