Paul Rutherford | John Stevens | Trevir Watts |Kenny Wheeler |Bruce Cale | Jeff Clyne | Chris Cambridge | Evan Parker
1 - E.D.'S MESSAGE - 4:08
2 - 2.B.ORNETTE - 2:07
3 - CLUB 66 - 8:37
4 - DAY OF RECKONING - 8:33
5 - END TO A BEGINNING - 2:42
6 - TRAVELLING TOGETHER - 9:10
7 - LITTLE RED HEAD - 3:52
8 - AFTER LISTENING - 8:10
9 - END TO A BEGINNING - 4:16
10 - DISTANT LITTLE SOUL - 15:13
The discipline of discographical research usually follows a rubric akin to any science-based endeavor in that revision goes part and parcel with the pursuit. Invariably a lost tape or long forgotten reel-to-reel surfaces and succeeds in gumming up the works for those dedicated souls who track musical minutiae and the very idea of the 'complete' recordings of any musician or group is by definition a misnomer. Corroborating the inherent futility in attempting a definitive catalog of a musician or band's every extant recording, Emanem has seen fit to release yet another document from the SME's earliest years, one that has been out of circulation for years and comes newly pressed with a pair of unreleased performances.
Boundaries between free improvisation and free jazz blurred even further back when these tracks were recorded than they do in today's 21st century climate. Many of the pieces in this vintage of the SME songbook have strong jazz referents and it's an exciting prospect to hear them all navigating such jazz-based straits together. The complete sextet sounds off on all but three of the selections with Kenny Wheeler sitting out on two and John Stevens hanging up his sticks on "Little Red Head". Usually working from prearranged heads the band is a tightly knit unit. Sectional interludes of tracks like "Traveling Together" profess a high level of compositional cohesion balanced with individual improvisational verve. The Paul Rutherford-penned fragment "2.B.Ornette" features Wheeler's clipped flugelhorn and delivers fascinating instruction on one of the seminal influences on the group. The opening "E.D.'s Message" references another in its oblique invocation of Dolphy through Trevor Watts' register leaping runs. In similar fashion the saxophonist sails above the bustling firmament of bass and drums on "Club 66", firing off pinched figures and sounding like a personalized amalgam of the aforementioned Coleman and Lee Konitz. Rutherford ranges about the middle register of his brass smearing the edges of his phrases with well-placed plunger manipulations. Stevens practices the rudiments of the economical acumen that was to become his trademark, parsing out press rolls in staccato bursts.
Akin to the prize buried at the bottom of a cereal box the disc's final track offers a smaller assemblage of SME members bringing to life a composition by Stevens. Scripted as an aural encapsulation of the drummer's feelings of homesickness the piece features Watts flighty piccolo in tandem with Evan Parker's nascent soprano. Contemporaneous session photos in the liner notes picture the players bedecked in vests, ties, slacks, and in some instances spectacles looking like youthful Tristanoite intellectuals. The music reflects this academic bent, but is also flavored with a fair amount of visceral thrills. SME discographers may scratch their heads and rush to update their files, but for the rest of us the music is certain to provide satisfaction enough.