Spontaneous Music Ensemble

Stevens / Butcher / Smith, Conway Hall, London, 1994 - by Z V Vasovic.

Spontaneous Music Ensemble

At its start in 1966 The Spontaneous Music Ensemble was a co-operative band based around John Stevens, Trevor Watts and Paul Rutherford who had met during National Service at an RAF music school. "The SME" eventually bacame a name John Stevens’ used for particular improvising groups ranging from duo to at least 20 people. The more long-lived tended to be small and were intimately connected with Watts, Rutherford, Derek Bailey, Evan Parker, Maggie Nicols, Julie Tippetts, Roger Smith and Nigel Coombes (to name a few).
Butcher joined a constellation with Roger Smith and Neil Metcalfe in 1992, which then reduced to the trio on A New Distance. The group only played in London - in the basement of the Singapore Padang Chinese restraurant, in pubs, at the BBC, at the Conway Hall, Lewisham Library, the Red Rose, Vortex and Jazz Cafe. The SME's last concert was on 12 August 1994, with John only playing pocket trumpet - a month before he died.

The influence of the SME, via players who passed through its ranks or were inspired by seeing them perform, is incalculable but vast. They changed the way that many people heard; music would be hugely different had they not existed. Can there be greater praise?
All About Jazz - John Eyles.

A New Distance
A New DistanceDL

Wire / Jazz Review
All About Jazz / Dusted
Sleeve Notes (Steve Beresford)

© 2021