Best known for his off-and-on association through the years with Dave Brubeck, clarinetist Bill Smith and pianist John Eaton teamed up in 1960 with a pair of talented Italians -- bassist Erich Peter and drummer Pierre Favre -- to form the American Jazz Ensemble. Their music looked towards swing standards, avant-garde experimentation and Western classical music for inspiration. The group recorded a fine LP for RCA in 1962; back in the U.S. in 1963, Smith and Eaton recorded a set for Epic with bassist Richard Davis and drummer Paul Motian. A second RCA date with the later personnel was never released and, after the group's breakup in 1963, largely forgotten.
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