Spontaneous Music Ensemble

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John Steven's Spontaneous Music Ensemble underwent several stages through the years, the only real constant being Stevens himself. This recording collects two versions of the group: the first with three stringed instruments: Nigel Coombs on violin, Colin Wood on cello, and Roger Smith on guitar; and the second, without Wood. Two of the four tracks feature Stevens on cornet, on which his abysmal technique displays a quaint primitivism. There is some marvelous improvisational interplay throughout, but the results are erratic, with long sections of rambling interspersed with brilliant performances. Longtime admirers of the SME will not wish to be without this recording, but this is not the best example of the group's work. That said, Coombes solos at length, often with great presence and command, and Smith, on both acoustic and amplified guitar, is as stunning as expected.

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