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Spontaneus Music Ensemble — Oliv & Familie

Spontaneus Music Ensemble — Oliv & Familie (October 27, 2014)

  Spontaneus Music Ensemble — Oliv & FamilieSpontaneus Music Ensemble — Oliv & Familie
Ξ°    A long overdue reappearance of the third Spontaneous Music Ensemble LP. One version of OLIV features Kenny Wheeler and Derek Bailey soloing over a four–person voice and saxophone drone which is eventually joined by a piano/bass/drums rhythm section. The second version is an improvisation by the quartet of John Stevens, Maggie Nicols, Trevor Watts and Johnny Dyani one of the great early examples of the free improvisation era, and the recording debut of Nicols. Also included are one and a half takes of FAMILIE by an eleven piece group, the earliest recorded example of a large group SME performance. Strongly influenced by Gagaku (Japanese court music), this ensemble comprises two voices, three winds, three strings, piano, guitar, and percussion. 67 minutes — reissue of Marmalade LP 608008 (2384009) plus 31 minutes previously unissued.  //  Avant–garde and jazz vocalist Maggie Nicols has been an active participant in the European improvisational community since joining the Spontaneous Music Ensemble the late '60s. As a co–founder of the Feminist Improvising Group, she has also worked to further women in improvised music, dancing and other creative arts not only by example, but through workshops and extensive collaborating. °
Location: London, UK
Album release: October 27, 2014
Record Label: Emanem
Duration:     68:09
1 FAMILIE      19:54
2 OLIV I      19:35
3 OLIV II      17:06
4 FAMILIE (alternative ending)      11:34
Ξ   All analogue studio recordings made in London
Ξ   1 & 4 by Eddie Kramer — 1968 January
Ξ   2 & 3 by Eddie Offord — 1969 February 7
Ξ   2 & 3 originally issued in 1969 as Marmalade LP 608008
Ξ   1 & 4 previously unissued
1 & 4:
° PEPI LEMER voice,
° TREVOR WATTS piccolo,
° BRIAN SMITH flute,
° EVAN PARKER soprano saxophone,
° PETER LEMER piano,
° DEREK BAILEY electric guitar,
° NIK BRYCE cello,
° JEFF CLYNE double bass,
° DAVE HOLLAND double bass,
° JOHN STEVENS percussion
° KENNY WHEELER flügel horn,
° DEREK BAILEY electric guitar,
° PEPI LEMER voice,
° TREVOR WATTS alto saxophone,
° PETER LEMER piano,
° JOHNNY DYANI double bass,
° JOHN STEVENS percussion
° TREVOR WATTS alto saxophone,
° JOHNNY DYANI double bass,
° JOHN STEVENS percussion
Excerpts from sleeve notes:
Ξ   The 1969 OLIV session was the third Spontaneous Music Ensemble (SME) LP to be issued, following on from CHALLENGE (1966), now available on 5029, and KARYOBIN (1968), currently awaiting reissue. Other early SME recordings were subsequently issued on the Emanem CDs called WITHDRAWAL (awaiting reissue), SUMMER 1967 (4005) and FRAMEWORKS (4134). OLIV & FAMILIE also contains a previously unissued recording from around the same time as KARYOBIN.
Ξ   FAMILIE appears to be the earliest recorded example of a large SME group. This music is very influenced by slow–moving Gagaku (Japanese court music), especially the semi–composed first half. The second half is largely a free improvisation with a brief return to the written material at the end. An alternative take was recorded, presumably shortly before the selected take. The first half of this other take was not well realised, so only the mostly improvised second half has been added to this collection. Another version recorded a few months later by a very different quintet can be heard on FRAMEWORKS.
Ξ   When a recording opportunity arose around this time, John Stevens was inclined to put together a special group, rather than just use the current working version of the Spontaneous Music Ensemble. Thus the OLIV I line–up was put together just to record two of his pieces in the studio, only one of which ended up on the original LP. All of the performers were given particular roles. Kenny Wheeler’s was to act rather like a jazz soloist, while Derek Bailey was free to comment throughout. The saxophone and three vocalists functioned as a drone, and the piano, bass and drums acted as a jazz rhythm section. (Note that Carolann Nicholls reappeared decades later on record as Carolann Jackson.)
Ξ   OLIV I begins with a statement of the theme written by John Stevens with words by Maggie Nicols. This leads into a particularly beautiful section in which Wheeler and Bailey improvise over just the drone. Then the static drone is joined by the forward–driving rhythm section, to produce a push–pull backdrop that is inherently contradictory and full of tension. After listening to this for over 40 years, I’m still not convinced it makes sense, but it does result in some superlative playing from both of the soloists, before finishing in a somewhat extended coda.
Ξ   A second piece by this nine–piece group did not result in a satisfactory performance, so it was decided on the spot to record a another performance utilising the same starting material with just the then current SME quartet — John Stevens, Trevor Watts, Maggie Nicols and Johnny Dyani. The result, OLIV II, is one of the classic recorded performances of that era or any other.
Ξ   OLIV II, which became the second side of the LP, also begins with the theme statement, but then goes into a very fine quartet improvisation in which all four musicians have equal roles, without any of the hierarchical functions associated with jazz. Stevens uses his small SME drum kit, which was designed to have the same volume level as other unamplified instruments. Unusually for this type of music, Watts plays alto saxophone rather than soprano. He also holds back a bit more than normal so as not to overwhelm the new singer, Nicols, who recently said: "It was indeed my very first recording and I was so scared of doing bebop licks, that I didn’t use any consonants at all!" Dyani shows himself to be a very adaptable bass player who often found unique ways to fit in without being at all disruptive. The performance ends with two basic Stevens concepts, namely a Sustained Piece and a Click Piece.
Ξ   On gigs, this group was sometimes augmented by either Carolann Nicholls or Kenny Wheeler to become a quintet. The former was on board when the SME played a Berlin festival late in 1968 — a performance that flummoxed and perturbed the brute–force improvisers who were then prevalent there. Later in 1969, Maggie Nicols was replaced by Mongezi Feza resulting in a quartet that does not seem to have been recorded. We must be thankful that OLIV II was recorded even though it was almost by accident. — MARTIN DAVIDSON (2014)                            © Maggie Nicols, John MacLaughlin, Berlin 1968
Excerpts from reviews:
Ξ   “Got Oliv on the headphones now at work — great job on remastering this beauty. I have a nice Polydor LP but this certainly blows that away. And the Familie sequence sounds very clear too.” — CLIFFORD ALLEN — private email — 2014
Fortaken: http://www.emanemdisc.com/
Website: http://www.normawinstone.com/ // MAGGIE NICOLS: http://www.maggienicols.com/
Ξ   British Jazz Singer and Lyricist
Born: 23 September 1941 in  Bow, East London, UK
Ξ   Norma Ann Winstone MBE (Order of the British Empire)
Ξ   2007: MBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours, for services to music.
Ξ   2009: Skoda Jazz Ahead Award in Bremen for her contribution to European Jazz.
2010: London Awards for Art and Performance.
Ξ   Norma Winstone was born in London and first attracted attention in the late sixties when she shared the bill at Ronnie Scott’s club with Roland Kirk.
Ξ   Her current group is a trio featuring Italian pianist Glauco Venier and German saxophonist/ bass clarinetist Klaus Gesing.
Ξ   The trio was formed around twelve years ago when Glauco and Klaus, who were playing as a duo at the time, asked Norma to guest with them at a concert near Udine, in Northern Italy, Glauco’s home town. A rapport between the three was immediately apparent. She realised that this was a group that had a very original sound which she wanted to develop. They made their first recording ‘Chamber Music‘, released by Universal, Austria, at the Artesuono Recording Studios in Udine in 2002. This is where they subsequently recorded their ECM album ‘Distances‘, which was given a four and a half star review in Downbeat Magazine, had wonderful reviews in the German and English press.
Ξ   The CD received an award as top Jazz Vocal CD from Academie Du Jazz in France and its crowning achievement was a Grammy nomination in the Jazz Vocal CD category of 2008.
Ξ   “One of the Glories of contemporary Jazz” — Jazz Journal
Ξ   “Right now, she is at the peak of her form…, there is no jazz singer in the country to touch her.” — Alyn Shipton, The Times, London
Ξ   “Sets herself impossibly high standards, and then surpasses them.” — Tony Sloman, Pizza On the Park
Ξ   “Norma Winstone’s instrument: an unfettered intelligence spinning tales with language…or without” — Thomas Conrad, Down Beat Magazine
Ξ   “Her spare, subtle and intelligent approach to improvisation, jazz standards, impressionistic tone poetry like a vocal Jan Garbarek and the uncovering
of overlooked songs that deserve to be classics, put her in the forefront of European singers.” — John Fordham, The Guardian
Ξ   “It is unlikely that there is a better jazz singer than Miss Winstone. She has none of the histrionics which mar so much of the work of her contemporaries, and one is left with tasteful ideas, expressed in pure musical form.” — Steve Voce, Jersey Evening Post
Ξ   “.. a one–of–a–kind singer blessed with an ear nonpareil… tones so pure, phrasing so unique and captivating, as to make each song an aural adventure.” — The Skanner, Portland, Oregon
Ξ   “.. a superb example of state–of–the–art, imaginative, virtually beyond–definition singing.” — Don Heckman, Los Angeles Times

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