Quintessence 2 (1973-1974)

Spontaneous Music Ensemble

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Quintessence 2 (1973-1974) Review

by Fran├žois Couture

Part two of an early 1974 concert performed by an ad hoc lineup of the Spontaneous Music Ensemble, Quintessence 2 was first released as an LP separate from Quintessence 1. The CD reissue contains both pieces performed during the second part of the concert, plus two pieces from a previous concert when the group was comprised of John Stevens and Trevor Watts performing as a duo. The quintet pieces also feature Evan Parker, Kent Carter, and Derek Bailey. The level of abstract bliss reached on "Forty Minutes" (the first half of the performance, included on the Quintessence 1 CD) is not matched here, but "Thirty-Five Minutes" and "Ten Minutes" are still suitable complements: Knowing that these five musicians had never played as a group before, the two improvisations impress by their level of listening and synergy. Bailey trades his amplified guitar for his 19-string acoustic guitar at one point, and it completely changes the sound palette. On "Corsop," the first duet, Stevens plays his cornet, something that might unnerve a few listeners. "Daa-Oom," a strange tribute to African singers and Albert Ayler (!), has him vocalizing while occasionally hitting a drum. This version is more satisfactory than the trio take on Quintessence 1.

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