“territories of the mind”




john stevens discography


compiled & annotated by


paul wilson




I remember sitting out in the back garden and saying,

“Look at that tree, Trev!”

and there’s this tree, a willow tree,

“look at all that movement there...

and listen to these birds singing while

that tree’s doing that”

– this was the vision, if you like –

“that’s what we can be!”








*John Stevens: August 27th, 1987



KEY: afl (alto flute), arr. (arranger), as (alto sax), b (double bass), bd (breakdown), bars (bar sax), bcl (bass clarinet),  bg  (bass guitar), cl  (clarinet),  clo  (cello), comp. (composer), cor (cornet), d (drums &/or percussion), elg (electric guitar),  eup (euphonium), fh (flugel horn), fl (flute), frh (French horn), fs (false start), g (guitar – acoustic &/or electric),  glock (glockenspiel), hca (harmonica), imp. (improvisation), key (keyboards), p (piano),  perc (percussion), pic (piccolo), pock tp (pocket trumpet), R1 etc. (BBC Radio 1 etc.), Rec. (recording date), ss (sop sax), str (strings), synth (synthesizer), tb (trombone), tk (take), tp (trumpet), tr (transmission date). ts (ten sax), tymp (tympani), vib (vibraphone), vla (viola),  vln (violin),  voc (vocal/voice). Information enclosed in square brackets [ ] or [ ] – is uncertain.


Listed record labels are British except the following (or as noted): Atonal (Germany), Ayler (Sweden), Byg (France), Cadence Jazz (USA), Circulasione Totale (Norway), DIW (Japan), Entropy Stereo (USA), Japo (Germany), Konnex (Germany), Nessa (USA), Red (USA), View (Germany), Vinyl (Germany).


As is the norm, this discography presents the recordings in chronological order, although a few entries which I felt were best described as ‘session work’ have been detailed in Appendix I. Much of the detailed annotation of tape formats/speed/sound quality etc. was done for archival reasons but is reproduced here for the benefit of anyone interested.


Many of the cited recordings are held at the National Sound Archive (NSA), a collection of the British Library, and can be heard free-of-charge by anyone making an appointment with the NSA Listening & Viewing Service at The British Library, 96 Euston Road, London NW1 2DB (telephone 0171-412 7418 and be prepared to quote the tape numbers given in the discography at the bottom of each entry, or disc label/catalogue numbers for the published items).


The bulk of the C577/ series tapes originally belonged to John and were deposited by him in 1992. Several musicians who worked with him have also made deposits and additional material was rounded-up from other sources, whilst the National Sound Archive collections already included most of the published recordings on disc/CD and many of the BBC radio broadcasts. The full British Library sound recordings catalogue (“Cadensa”) can be viewed online at: www.cadensa.bl.uk.


As many of the Library’s users are students or researchers, I have also added a selective bibliography and resource list in Appendix 2. Additionally, some record and concert rveiews have been noted throughout the discography in notes attached to the relevant entries, although the listing does not attempt to be comprehensive in this regard. Of particular value to any student of improvised music is a series of oral history interviews which have been specially recorded for the National Sound Archive’s Oral history of Jazz in Britain project, including an 11-hour interview with John Stevens which was recorded over three sessions at his Ealing home in late 1992. Here will be found, unedited and unexpurgated, some of his thoughts and feelings on aspects of virtually his entire musical career (NSA tapes H7291-H7297). The Oral History  project also includes recorded interviews with a number of Stevens’s key collaborators over the years, including Steve Beresford, Paul Rutherford, Trevor Watts, Kenny Wheeler, Jeff Clyne, Evan Parker, Derek Bailey, Maggie Nicols, Norma Winstone, Ron Mathewson, Stan Tracey and others. Additional information on these and other aspects of the NSA collections is available from Paul Wilson on 020-7412 7446 <pwilson@bl.uk>. All readers’ corrections, comments or additions always welcome.


To date (September 2002) no recordings of John Stevens have surfaced from the years prior to his completion of military service in February 1964. John was stationed with the RAF in Cologne from ca. 1960–1963 and is known to have deputised for an indisposed Kenny Clarke in a rehearsal for a German radio broadcast by the Francy Boland Octet; not known to have been recorded. While in Cologne, he also played in groups with Manfred Schoof (tp), Horst Jager (ts), Alex von Schlippenbach (p), and Helmut Candelberger (b), among others.


On leaving the RAF and returning to London, he was invited to join the Don Ridell Four, a "Four Freshmen–style" group in which the musicians all sang. This association resulted in the recording of one album and at least two singles under the group name The Carefrees. These “bread-and-butter” recordings are detailed in Appendix I (Session work) as there is no evidence that John had any creative input beyond conventional time-drumming and perhaps an ensemble backing vocal.  The “John Stevens Discography” proper therefore appears to commence with the following recording from 1965:


Tubby Hayes Quartet – live at Ronnie Scott’s

Tubby Hayes (ts?/fl*), prob. Mike Pyne (p), Ron Mathewson (b), poss. John Stevens (d). Rec live by Les Tomkins, Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club, London, Thur February 18th, 1965.


 Some time ago

 unknown title (incomplete)*


Mono reel survives. John Stevens’ participation in this session has not been positively confirmed.


John Burch Trio – live at the Mandrake

John Burch (p), Ron Mathewson (b), John Stevens (d). Rec. live by Les Tomkins at The Mandrake, London, May 20th, 1965.


 Burch blues (J. Burch)

 Too close for comfort


Mono reel survives. A short review of this Mandrake Club residency appeared in Crescendo, Vol. 3 No. 12 (July 1965) p2.


John Burch Trio and guests – live at the Mandrake

John Burch Trio: John Burch (p), Ron Mathewson (b), John Stevens (d), + guests: Les Tomkins (voc), Fred Perry (bars/fl). Rec. by Les Tomkins, The Mandrake, London, Fri June 4th, 1965


 It could happen to you

 What is this thing called love?

 Time on my hands

 My heart stood still

 Blues for Fred/Bag’s groove

 Perry Nova

 Polka dots and moonbeams


Tomkins out, add unidentified (ts)


 My secret love


Mono reel survives. A short review of this Mandrake Club residency appeared in Crescendo, Vol. 3 No. 12 (July 1965) p2.


Sandy Brown Trio – live at the Mandrake

Sandy Brown Trio: Sandy Brown (p), Ron Mathewson (b), John Stevens (d). Rec. same location/date as above


 The brotherhood of man

 Long live love


Mono reel survives.


Josephine Stahl – live at the Mandrake

Josephine Stahl (voc), same unidentified (ts) Tony Leedham (p), Ron Mathewson (b), John Stevens (d). Same location/date as above.


 It might as well be Spring


Mono reel survives.


John Burch Trio & guests – live at the Mandrake

John Burch Trio: John Burch (p), Ron Mathewson (b), John Stevens (d) + guests: Vickie Gillespie (voc), Les Tomkins (voc), unidentified (voc). Rec. by Les Tomkins, The Mandrake, London, Fri June 18th, 1965.



 Too close for comfort

 Willow weep for me

 Easy to love


 Moonlight in Vermont


vocalists out


In the meantime


Mono reel survives. A short review of this Mandrake Club residency appeared in Crescendo, Vol. 3 No. 12 (July 1965) p2.


Colin David Quintet – live at the Mandrake

Colin David Quintet: Colin David (p), 2 x unidentified (ts), Ron Mathewson (b), John Stevens (d). Same location/date as above.


 I’ll remember April


Mono reel survives.


Harry Klein Quartet – World Service broadcast

Harry Klein (bars), John Burch (p), Malcolm Cecil (b), John Stevens (d). Rec. by BBC Radio, Playhouse Theatre, London, ca. early–mid 1965?; tr: BBC World Service, prob. ‘Bandbeat’ programmme.


 unknown titles


No tape copy known to survive.


Harry Klein Quartet + Jo Searle – live at 21 Dean Street

Harry Klein (as), Johnny Weed (p), unidentified (b), John Stevens (d) + Jo Searle (voc)*. Rec. live by Les Tomkins, 21 Dean Street, London, Sun July 4th, 1965.


 The girl from Ipanema*

 On the street where you live

 Jersey bounce*

 I let a song go out of my heart

 I can’t give you anything but love*

 Love for sale

 unknown title (poss. ‘San Carlo’)

 How long has this been going on?*

 You turned the tables on me

 You were never lovelier

 I hadn’t anyone till you*

 Like someone in love


Mono reel survives.


Johnny Fourie/Gus Galbraith Quartet – live at Ronnie Scott’s

Gus Galbraith (fh), Johnny Fourie (g), Bruce Cale (b), John Stevens (d) + unidentified (p)*. Rec. live by Les Tomkins, Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club, London, Fri October 29th, 1965.


 On Green Dolphin Street

 Birdlike (Hubbard)*


Mono reel survives.


John Stevens Seven – ‘Jazz Club’  broadcast

Kenny Wheeler (fh), Chris Pyne (tb), Ray Warleigh (as), Alan Skidmore (ts), Mike Pyne (p), Ron Mathewson (b), John Stevens (d). Rec. & transmitted live by BBC Radio Light Programme from the Paris cinema, London, November 15th, 1965.


 The wheel (Chris Pyne)                                                                                     5’20

 Sweet yak (Kenny Wheeler)                                                                              4’30

 The hanging back (Chris Pyne)                                                       5’05

 Gone with the wind (Wrubel)*                                                                           5’50

 Panic (Mike Pyne)                                                                                              3’05


*all out except M. Pyne, Mathewson, Stevens.


After John complained to BBC Radio producer Bryant Marriott that ‘Jazz club’ never featured any of the younger groups, he was invited to put a band together for a special programme which Radio Times billed with the heading "Jazz Club introduces New Faces and Young Stars – John Stevens Seven". Evidently the BBC had no idea what to expect as the contract for this session indicates that the group were paid “sixty-four pounds, one shilling and sixpence (£64.1s.6d) for the services of seven musicians including the personal appearance of John Stevens as conductor”! Although negatively reviewed by Brian Gladwell in Crescendo, Vol 4 No 5 (Dec 1965) p8, a readers letter to Melody Maker, 27th Nov 1965, p20 ( “At last some new talent on the BBC”) is probably more indicative of the wider audience response and consequently the band were offered another Jazz Club session only five weeks later. Although no surviving recording of this live relay has yet been confirmed, it is likely that at least one offair recording still exists in a known private collection.


John Stevens Septet – ‘Jazz Club’ broadcast

Kenny Wheeler (fh), Chris Pyne (tb), Ray Warleigh (as), Alan Skidmore (ts), Mike Pyne (p), Ron Mathewson (b), John Stevens (d). Rec. & transmitted live by BBC Radio Light Programme at the Paris cinema, London, December 20th, 1965.


 Number three (Chris Pyne)                                                                               7’05

 Down home up (Chris Pyne)                                                                             7’20

 Someday you’ll be sorry (Louis Armstrong)*                                                   5’05

 Sixes and sevens (Kenny Wheeler)                                                                  6’55


*all out except M. Pyne, Mathewson, Stevens


7.5ips mono offair rec. (flawed): NSA C577/9 (H2025). A better quality copy of this broadcast is also likely to exist in a private collection.


Pete Lemer Trio – Little Theatre Club opening night

Pete Lemer (p), Jeff Clyne (b), John Stevens (d). Rec. live by Les Tomkins, Little Theatre Club, Garrick Yard, London, Monday, January 3rd, 1966


 Improvisation (Lemer)

 N.Y.–3 (Lemer)

 Night song (Lemer)

 theme (unknown title)

 Ida Lupino (C. Bley)

 Round dance


Mono reel survives . See note below.


Trevor Watts Quintet & guests – Little Theatre Club opening night

Trevor Watts (as), Paul Rutherford (tb), Jeff Clyne (b), John Ryan (b), John Stevens (d). Rec. same location/date as above.


 Do you have to do that? (Watts)

 Judy’s smile (Watts)

 Club ‘65 (Watts)


add Graham Bond (as), Les Carter (fl)


 Little Richie (Stevens)


Mono reel survives. The opening night of “Jazz at the Little Theatre” was negatively reviewed by Chris Welch in Melody Maker 15/1/66 p10, but a ‘Caught in the Act’ review of a later evening, which appeared in MM 23/4/66, was more positive: “their music has an excitement which comes from a real attempt to meet challenges and to explore the lesser-known paths.”  A review of these early LTC concerts also appeared in Crescendo, Vol 4 No 8 (March 1966) p3, along with some comments from John.


Trevor Watts/Pete Lemer Sextet – live at the Little Theatre Club

Trevor Watts (as), Paul Rutherford (tb), Pete Lemer (p), Jeff Clyne (b), John Ryan (b), John Stevens (d). Rec. live by Les Tomkins, Mon January 10th, 1966.


 The darkness and the deep (Rutherford)

 Do you have to do that? (Watts)


Mono reel survives.


Pete Lemer Trio with Les Tomkins – live at the Mandrake

Les Tomkins (voc), Pete Lemer (p), Jeff Clyne (b), John Stevens (d). Rec. live by Les Tomkins, the Mandrake Club, London, Sat January 29th, 1966.


 I’ve never been in love with anyone like you (Tomkins)

 Tomorrow (Tomkins)

 I’ll see you in  the morning (Tomkins)

 Why can’t I tell you? (Tomkins)


Tomkins out


 N.Y.–3 (Lemer)


Mono reel survives.


Bill Ashton Octet – demo recording

Bill Ashton (bars), Derek Andrews (tp), Derek Wadsworth (tb), Maurice [Cockrell] (p), Len Walker (g), Danny Thompson (b), Lennie Hastings (d),  John Stevens (d). Rec. studio, Angel, London, ca. 1966.


 Autumn leaves                                                                                   unissued

 Isn’t it romantic                                                                                                          

 You don’t know what love is                                                                                      

 Cottage for sale                                                                                                          

 other unknown title(s)                                                                                                


This demo recording session was organised by Bill Ashton in the hope of securing a ‘Music While You Work’ or other morning programme session on BBC Radio. According to Ashton these were lightweight Dave Pell/West Coast–inspired arrangements. 15ips master & 7.5ips copies survive.


Spontaneous Music Ensemble – ‘Challenge’

Paul Rutherford (tb), Trevor Watts (as), Bruce Cale (b), John Stevens (d, except*). Rec. by Eddie Kramer at KPS Sound Studio, London, March 5th, 12th & 19th, 1966.


 Day of reckoning (Watts)                             8’33                             Eyemark EMPL 1002 (mono lp), Emanem 4053 (stereo cd)

 End to a beginning (Stevens)     [tk 1]          2’42                                                                                                        


add Kenny Wheeler (fh)


 2.B.Ornette (Rutherford)                              2’07                             Eyemark EMPL 1002 (mono lp)                                  

 Club 66 (Watts)                                            8’36                                                                                                                                    

 Travelling together (Stevens)                      9’09                                                                                                                                    

 Little red head (Stevens)*                             3’52                                                                                                                  

 After listening (Rutherford)                         8’10                                                                                                                                    


Jeff Clyne (b) replaces Bruce Cale, rec. March 19th, 1966, or later


 E.D.’s message (Watts)                              4’08                                                                                                                  

 End to a beginning (Stevens) [tk 2]              4’16                                                                                                      



15ips 2–track (not balanced for stereo) copy masters for the issued album: NSA C577/1–2 (H1998–1999). 7.5ips copy of End to a beginning (tk 1): C577/102 (H5556). Alternate takes of other titles were recorded at these sessions, including 2.B. Ornette and After listening, but probably no longer exist. The order of titles as recorded is not known. The master tape boxes for this album show that the group was originally or provisionally named Today’s Jazz Ensemble, but this name was subsequently crossed out and replaced with Spontaneous Music Ensemble, seemingly in anticipation of the group’s subsequent musical direction. Only 500 mono copies of the Eyemark LP were pressed; sleeve notes by Chris Cambridge. A short article by Chris Welch in Melody Maker 23/4/66 p8 (“Oldham: Stones man digs into avant garde”) looked into plans by Rolling Stones manager Andrew Oldham to release the album on his pop label Immediate, and includes some comments by John. John also commented on the album in an interview published in The Wire (issue no. 2) p30. LP reviewed by Bob Houston in Melody Maker 10/12/66 p12 & by Barry McRae in Jazz Journal 2/67 p35. Discussed in an article by Max Harrison in Jazz & Blues 3/73 p8–9. The Emanem reissue presents the the two-track recording mixed to a point somewhere between mono & stereo (the best that is possible), and adds the version of Distant little soul  from April 22, 1967.


Spontaneous Music Ensemble – ‘Cul–de–Sac’ soundtrack

Kenny Wheeler (tp), Paul Rutherford (tb), Trevor Watts (as/breathing**), Jeff Clyne (b), John Stevens (d/perc). Rec. by Eddie Kramer, prob. at Olympic Sound Studios, London, April 1966


 Cul-de-sac [unedited recording session, with talk]                        12’25 (total)                                 

 Juicy [unedited recording session, with talk]                                  7’54 (total)

 Juicy (K. Komeda)                                                                            2’12  (completed track)

 Indian (Stevens?)**                                                                           2’09  (completed track)


add Derek Bailey (g), presumably recorded at a later date


 Cul-de-sac [unedited dubbing session?]                                        

 Cul-de-sac (K. Komeda; arr. P. Rutherford)*                                 2’14  (completed track)


15ips 2-track reel with unedited initial recording session for Cul-de-sac  and Juicy:  C577/42 (H7241)

15ips 2-track reel with dubbing session and guitar: C577/41 (H5554) + C577/43.

7.5ips mono reel (fluctuating levels) with all completed tracks: C577/102 (H5556)


These are surely the most unexpected items in the S.M.E. discography, being entirely composed. The Ensemble was apparently commissioned via Eddie Kramer to record compositions by Krzysztof Komeda for the soundtrack of Roman Polanski’s 1966 film ‘Cul–de–Sac’, an offbeat black–comedy set on the island of Lindisfarne. Musically, these period pieces fall well outside the sphere normally associated with both the jazz & improvising versions of the SME and this entry perhaps belongs in the section headed ‘Session work’. The tape boxes are labelled “SME”, but that was probably done by the recording engineer. In any case, the group’s reasons for accepting such a commission were presumably economic, yet despite turning in a succinct and professional performance of the pieces as written, the SME recordings were not the ones used in the film. Tape no. C577/41 suggests that the overdubbing of Cul-de-sac  might have been done at the same session as the Septet version of Withdrawal - sequences I & II , hitherto assumed to have been contemporary with Seeing sounds & hearing colours (circa early March 1967). However, if this is the case, it is unclear why the group were completing work on a soundtrack for a film which had already been released the previous year. Derek Bailey was not a member of the group in April 1966 and has no recollection of participating in a dubbing session, so the technical and chronological status of the surviving tapes remains doubtful.  Polanski’s film was premiered in Spring 1966 & reviewed in the cinema press in June 1966.


Peter Lemer Quintet – ‘Local Colour’ session

George (Nisar Ahmad) Khan (ts), John Surman (bar/ss/bcl), Peter Lemer (p), Tony Reeves (b), John Stevens (d). Rec. by Eddie Kramer at KPS Sound Studios, London, April 2nd & 23rd, 1966.


 The stagger (Lemer)              10’25                       unissued

 Ictus (Paul Bley)                         8’40                           

 Discharge (group imp.)              3’27                           

 unknown title                               3’16                           

 unknown title                               4’27                           

 Carmen (Lemer)                        7’36                           


2 x 15ips st. masters: C577/47–48 (H5553). The Quintet recorded a further session on May 22nd, 1966 (& May 5th?) with Jon Hiseman replacing John Stevens on drums and this was the date released on ESP S 1057. These April recordings suffer from distortion in places, particularly affecting the piano, which might explain why the session was rejected. 


The Blue Notes Jazzband – World Service broadcast

probable personnel: Mongezi Feza (tp), Dudu Pukwana (ts), Chris McGregor (p), Johnny Dyani (b), John Stevens (d). Rec. by BBC Radio, The Playhouse, London, May 4th, 1966; tr: BBC World Service, ‘Bandbeat’; Wed May 25th, 1966.


 Wolverine blues (Morton)

 Jazz me blues (Delaney)

 Round midnight (Monk)

 Dont think twice, it’s alright (Bob Dylan)

 Threepenny bit (Bennett)


John temporarily took Louis Moholo’s place in the drum seat when Moholo and Johnny Dyani went to work with Steve Lacy in Argentina and is known to have participated in a World Service session with the band. It has not been confirmed that this is the broadcast detailed above although it falls within the period in question and seems likely. No tape copy located. Some interesting comments of John’s on his experiences with this band are quoted in “Chris McGregor and the Brotherhood of Breath” by Maxine McGregor  (published Bamberger, Michigan, 1995, p99-100).


Spontaneous Music Ensemble – ‘Jazz Scene’ broadcast

Kenny Wheeler (fh), Paul Rutherford (tb), Trevor Watts (as), Jeff Clyne (b), John Stevens (d). Rec. live at the BBC’s Piccadilly 1 studio, London, June 1st, 1966; tr: BBC Light Programme, ‘The Jazz Scene’, Sun June 5th, 1966.


 E.D.’s message (Watts)                              2’45

 2.B. Ornette (Rutherford)                             2’35

 Club ‘66 (Watts)                                           3’10

 Little red head (Stevens)                              5’00

 After listening (Rutherford)                          3’30

 Travelling together (Stevens)                      7’20


Dub from  a 1st gen. 3.75ips mono offair copy: C782/49. Presenter Humphrey Lyttelton felt it necessary to warn the audience at the start of the programme and asked listeners not to send letters of complaint to him personally.  Broadcast  reviewed by Victor Schonfield in Melody Maker 11/6/66 p12.


Jeff Clyne–Ian Carr Quartet – ‘Springboard’ (part)

Ian Carr (tp/fh*), Trevor Watts (as), Jeff Clyne (b), John Stevens (d). Rec. by Eddie Kramer, Regent Sound Studio?, London, June 4th, 1966.


 Helen’s clown (Watts)                                                   4’56                             Polydor Special 545 007 (lp)

 Helen’s clown (Watts) edit coda tk 1–3?                                                                   unissued

 Ou sont les neiges d’antan (Carr) tk 1                          4’49                                              

 Ou sont les neiges d’antan (Carr) tk 2                          0’37 (bd)                                      

 Ou sont les neiges d’antan (Carr) tk 3?                        5’00                             Polydor Special 545 007 (lp)

 Ballad (Clyne) tk 1                                                          5’01 (inc.)                            unissued

 Ballad (Clyne) tk 2                                                          8’26                                              


15ips st. session reel with unissued titles: NSA C577/44 (H7242). Ballad  (tk 1): C577/102 (H5556), Ballad  (tk 2): C577/45 (H7243).

See also notes under August 1966 session.


Spontaneous Music Ensemble – live at the Prince Albert

Paul Rutherford (tb), Trevor Watts (as), [Harry Miller] (b), John Stevens (drums).  Rec. live by Alan Newby & Tony Middleton, Prince Albert (public house), Blackheath Road, S.E. London, June 22nd, 1966.


 unknown title (start missing)

 Give me that old time perversion

 You can be happy (Watts)

 Judy’s smile (Watts)

 Questions and discussion*

 Themeless improvisation

 Chant (Stevens)

 Little red head (Stevens)

 Day of reckoning (Rutherford)


Quarter-track mono master survives. I have not heard this recording and the identity of the bass player remains uncertain. However, Hazel Miller recalls Harry Miller and Jan Steele playing with the SME at gigs at The Swan (Drury Lane) and elsewhere around this time. *Presumably this is talk but presently unconfirmed.


Jeff Clyne–Ian Carr Quartet – ‘Springboard’ (remainder)

 Ian Carr (tp/fh*), Trevor Watts (as), Jeff Clyne (b), John Stevens (d). Rec. Eddie Kramer, prob. Regent Sound Studio?, London, August 26-27th, 1966 (not nec. this order).


 Ballad (Clyne) tk 3?                                      5’19                             Polydor Special 545 007 (lp)

 Springboard (Stevens)                                                   6’41                                              

 Love was born (Watts)*                                              13’16                                               

 Crazy Jane (Carr)                                                          5’23                                              

 Crazy Jane (Carr) alto solo version or edit                  4’22 (inc.)                            unissued

 C4 (Stevens) tk 1                                                            8’15                                              

 C4 (Stevens) tk 2?                                                          3’24                             Polydor Special 545 007 (lp)


15ips st. reel with C4  (unissued take): NSA C577/44 (H7242). Crazy Jane  (alto solo version/edit):  C577/105 (H7256) + C4  (take 1): C577/106 (H7257). PolyGram hold production masters for the issued album and possibly other outtakes, and an additional 15ips st. reel from these August sessions is known to survive elsewhere. This album, originally recorded under the group name Jeff Clyne Quartet, was not released until late 1969. Although the sleeve only cites the date “August 1966”, some discographic sources have suggested the June 4th date, possibly derived from PolyGram archive files. The album was discussed in an article by Max Harrison in Jazz & Blues 3/73 p8–9 and reviewed by Bob Houston in Melody Maker 31/5/69 p19.


Spontaneous Music Ensemble – ‘Peaceful Farewell’ (part)

Trevor Watts (as), Bruce Cale (b), John Stevens (perc/glock*). Rec. by Eddie Kramer, studio, London, August 30th, 1966


 You can be happy (Watts)                                              3’31?       Bounty (unissued)

 Bruce’s departure (Watts/Cale/Stevens)                      6’02                            

 Judy’s smile (Watts)                                                      5’44                            

 Peaceful farewell (Stevens)*                                         6’55                            

 unknown title                                                                   1’49                            


15ips mono copy master for Peaceful farewell  only: C577/5 (H2006) + 7.5ips mono copy of You can be happy:  C577/102 (H5556). Other titles: dig. dub from cass. copy: C577/190. This album was also planned to include items from the session of December 19th, 1966.


Spontaneous Music Ensemble – World Service broadcast

probably Ian Carr (tp/fh), Trevor Watts (as), probably Jeff Clyne (b), John Stevens (d). Rec. BBC Maida Vale 4 studio, September 2nd, 1966; tr: BBC World Service, ‘Bandbeat’, October 10th, 1966.


 Club 66 (Watts)                          0’20

 Helen’s clown (Watts)               4’10

 C4 (Stevens)                               2’20

 Judy’s smile (Watts)                  6’50

 Springboard (Stevens)               1’45


No tape copy located. The contract for this session in BBC Written Archive files specifies payment “for services of four musicians including the personal appearance of Trevor Watts as leader.”


John Stevens interviewed by Alexis Korner

This 17 minute (approx.) unedited interview was possibly recorded in late 1966 for a BBC Radio (perhaps World Service?) broadcast, or for the BBC Transcription Service, but was probably never used. It is not detailed in BBC Written Archive files. John seems unrelaxed in this rather unenlightening interview. Tape held by NSA (presently unaccessioned)


Spontaneous Music Ensemble – ‘Withdrawal’ (part)

Kenny Wheeler (fh), Paul Rutherford (tb), Evan Parker (ss/ts), Trevor Watts (as/oboe), Barry Guy (b), John Stevens (d/glock). Rec. by Eddie Kramer, Eyemark Studio, London, prob. September &/or October 21st, 1966.


 Withdrawal soundtrack - Part 1 (Stevens)*                  18’28 (as edited)                          Emanem 4020 (cd)


Personnel as above, possibly same session


 Withdrawal  soundtrack - Part 2 (Stevens)**               31’30                                             Emanem 4020 (cd) [final 13’42 only**]


15ips mono "master" for ‘Part 1’:  NSA C577/10 (H5392) & ‘Part 2’ : NSA C577/12 (H5552).

*titled “Withdrawal Soundtrack - Parts 1A, 1B, 1C”  in CD issue; **titled “Withdrawal Soundtrack - Part 2”  in CD issue.


Withdrawal  was composed and recorded as the soundtrack to a 35 minute film of the same name, produced & directed by American George Paul Solomos. The film was adapted from a 90-page book by David Chapman, based on the true story of a young male addict and his experiences in a mental institution.  The group also read the book in preparation of the soundtrack which, unusually, was intended to accompany the action throughout the film from start to finish. This suggests that the longer version was the one intended or selected for use in the soundtrack. Unfortunately, it seems that the film was later deliberately destroyed because of the inclusion of non-Union acting personnel. The precise recording date remains uncertain although at least one take of Withdrawal  is known to have been recorded in Sept 1966 and Barry Guy has a diary entry for a "film/LP" recording session at 44 Baker Street on October 21st, 1966. A ‘History of the SME’, written by Trevor Watts in May 1967, also indicates Sept 1966. John Stevens was resident in Copenhagen and Amsterdam between November 1966 and the end of January 1967, so all these London recordings must predate or postdate this period. A  review of the SME soundtrack was published in FIBA Quarterly (Spring 1968, with erroneous recording date?). CD reviewed by Richard Leigh in Resonance Vol 6 No. 1 (1997) p42-43, & Richard Cook in The Wire, #167 (1/98) p55; in Cadence, Feb 1998, p45-6. CD notes by Martin Davidson.


John Stevens resident in Copenhagen ca. Nov–Dec 1966, resident in  Amsterdam ca. Dec 1966–beginning Feb 1967


John Tchicai – Copenhagen recording

Mongezi Feza (tp), Kim Menzer (tb), John Tchicai (as), John Stevens (d). Rec. Charlottenborg, Copenhagen, ca. October-November 1966.


 unknown titles


While John was away, the Spontaneous Music Ensemble continued to perform in England and apparently did some gigs with

Laurie Allen on drums. The group also did the following recording session without drums:


Spontaneous Music Ensemble – studio session

Kenny Wheeler (fh), Paul Rutherford (tb), Trevor Watts (as), Evan Parker (ss), Judith Bird (clo), Barry Guy (b). Rec. studio, London, December 19th, 1966.


 Improvisations on Chant (Stevens/arr. Watts)             16’30                           Dove (unissued)


all out except Watts, Bird, Guy


 Judy’s smile (Watts)                  6’50                                                                                  


Kenny Wheeler (fh), Paul Rutherford (tb), Trevor Watts (as), Evan Parker (ss), Barry Guy (b).  Same session.


 Cry of want (Watts)*                                                                                          Dove (unissued)


all out except Rutherford/Watts/Guy, poss. same session, December 1966.


 Cry of want (Watts)                    5’45                                                                 Dove (unissued)


All in NSA C577/190 except*. Dove was a record label which Trevor Watts hoped to establish with a view to releasing the above album but the plans evidently never reached fruition and the LP remains unissued. At some stage there were also plans to include Bruce’s departure and the quintet take of Cry of want  in the (eventually unissued) ‘Peaceful Farewell’ album. Master tapes for this session survive.


John Stevens – Danish radio interview

John was interviewed on Danish radio and tracks from the ‘Challenge’ LP were played, probably during his stay in Copenhagen (ca. November–December 1966)


[No tape copy located]


John Tchicai – Dutch radio broadcast

Collective personnel: Franćois Content (tp), John Tchicai (as), Piet Kuiters (p), John Stevens, Glen van Windt (d), Jeanne Lee (voc). Rec. at Sigma Centrum, Amsterdam, Netherlands, December 30th, 1966; tr: Dutch radio.


 Spanish (Tchicai)

 8½ (Tchicai)

 Erik (Tchicai)

 You’re breaking my heart

 Cosmopo (Tchicai)


John may not play on all titles as personnel varies.


Spontaneous Music Ensemble – ‘Withdrawal’ (remainder)

Kenny Wheeler (tp), Paul Rutherford (tb), Derek Bailey (g), Trevor Watts (vib), Evan Parker (glock), Barry Guy (b), John Stevens (perc/tymp). Rec. by Eddie Kramer at Olympic Sound Studios, London, prob. March 3rd, 1967*


 Withdrawal - sequence I (Stevens)                               11’22                           Emanem 4020 (CD)


Kenny Wheeler (fh), Paul Rutherford (tb), Trevor Watts (fl/as/voc), Derek Bailey (g), Barry Guy (p/b), John Stevens (perc), Evan Parker (perc). Rec same loc/date as above.


 Withdrawal - sequence II (Stevens)                              10’51                           Emanem 4020 (CD)


Kenny Wheeler (fh), Paul Rutherford (tb), Evan Parker (ts), Derek Bailey (g), Trevor Watts (glock), Barry Guy (b), John Stevens (perc). Rec. same location, poss. different date.


 Withdrawal - sequence III (Stevens)  -       take 1        2’26                                      unissued                             

                                                                        take 2        2’14                                              

                                                                        take 3        2’10                                              

                                                                        take 4        2’34                             Emanem 4020 (CD)

15ips st. copy masters of Withdrawal - sequences I & II:  NSA C577/41 (H5554). 15ips st. copy master of Sequence III  (all takes): C577/3 (H2004). The four takes of Sequence III  precede Seeing Sounds and Hearing Colours  on session reel C577/3 but they were not necessarily recorded on the same date. Sequence III  was based on the piece previously recorded for the ‘Springboard’ album as ‘C4’. Sequences I & II  have been identified on some reels as Withdrawal (Sequence I, Parts I & II).


Kenny Wheeler (tp/fh), Paul Rutherford (tb), Evan Parker (ss/ts), Trevor Watts (as/oboe/pic),  Derek Bailey (g), Barry Guy (b), John Stevens (perc/bowed cymbals/glock). Rec. by Eddie Kramer at Olympic Sound Studios, London, [early March] 1967.


 Seeing sounds and hearing colours (suite, comp. Stevens)

     – Introduction (Puddles, raindrops & circles)  -        take 1        4’41                    unissued

                                                                                          take 2        4’02           Emanem 4020 (CD)

    – Movement I   -  take 1           4’43                                                                                  

    – Movement II  -  take 1 (fs) + take 2 (interrupted): 4’44 + 0’39          unissued

                                    take 3        5’15                                                                 Emanem 4020 (CD)

    – Movement III (incl. ‘Finale’) - take 1 (fs) + take 2 (bd)                                       unissued

                                    take 3        7’23                                                                 Emanem 4020 (CD)

15ips st. copy masters for Seeing Sounds...: NSA C577/3–4 (H2004–5). The tape box log sheets for this session cite the date Feb 3rd, 1967. If this were correct, the session would have been recorded within two or three days of John’s return from Amsterdam, as indicated in Melody Maker reports from the previous week, which seems unlikely. However, contemporaneous notes made by Victor Schonfield suggest the more plausible recording date of early March. Seeing Sounds... was a suite composed and directed by John with specific musical textures, timbres and ‘colours’ in mind. He said the composition had been influenced by Webern’s Five Pieces for Orchestra  and that he visualised the “lines and shapes” of the score one morning in Amsterdam. It reveals the group at an historically significant transitional point, experimenting with instrumentation and composition before taking the plunge with free improvisation, but the group were not wholly satisfied with these experiments and John later felt he was "getting sidetracked from the natural, organic approach towards improvisation". It seems the suite was originally subtitled Puddles, raindrops and circles,  but at a later date this appears to have been used as the title of the introduction only. The suite was dedicated to artist Geoff Rigden. CD reviewed by Richard Leigh in Resonance Vol 6, # 1 (1997) p42-43, & R. Cook in The Wire, #167 (1/98) p55; in Cadence, Feb 1998, p45-6.


Gigs: SME gig review by Victor Schonfield; Melody Maker, Feb 11th 1967, p15. Barry Guy also has diary entries for concerts (probably with the S.M.E.) as follows: 1 March 1967 – Ronnie Scott’s Old Place, 6 March 1967 – I.C.A., 9 March 1967 – Kingley Street, 19 March 1967 – I.C.A., 22 March 1967 – Betterbooks, 9 April 1967 – Green Man. He also has the entry "long session", probably for a recording date, on 17 June 1967, although no S.M.E tapes from this date have yet been located. Jak Kilby saw the SME play with the following lineups on these dates: 14 April 1967 (Wheeler/Watts/Parker/Guy/Stevens), 19 May 1967 (Watts/Parker/ Stevens). SME gig at Little Theatre club reviewed by Barry McRae, Jazz Journal, Sept 1967, p22. SME gig reviewed by Victor Schonfield; Melody Maker, 23rd Sept, 1967, p4.


Spontaneous Music Ensemble – ‘Jazz Scene’ broadcast

Kenny Wheeler (tp/fh), Paul Rutherford (tb), Evan Parker (ss/ts), Trevor Watts (as/fl/oboe), Derek Bailey (g), Barry Guy (b), John Stevens (d). Rec. live by BBC Radio at the Paris cinema, London, Mon March 20th, 1967; tr: BBC Radio Light Programme ‘The Jazz Scene’ (‘Jazz Club’ slot), March 26th, 1967.


 Springboard (Stevens)                                                                     4’05

 Seeing sounds and hearing colours (suite, comp. Stevens)

                  – Introduction (‘Puddles, raindrops & circles’)              2’55

                  – Movement I                                                                   3’50

                  – Movement II                                                                  3’55

                  – Movement III                                                                 3’25

 Chant (Stevens)                                                                                4’20


Dig. dub from cass. copy: NSA C577/190. Puddles... was apparently inspired by a scene depicting raindrops falling into pools of water in a natural history film about New Zealand. The programme was introduced by Humphrey Lyttelton, who again felt it necessary to warn the audience that they were probably not going to like what they heard and again asked listeners not to send their complaints to him. He reassured the audience that these were “professional musicians who know exactly what they are doing”. By this time the BBC session contract specifies “the personal appearance of John Stevens as conductor” (sic).


Spontaneous Music Ensemble – “Challenge” (cd reissue only)

Trevor Watts (pic/as), Evan Parker (ss), Chris Cambridge (b), John Stevens (d). Rec. by Eddie Kramer at Olympic Sound Studios, London, April 22nd, 1967.


 Distant little soul (Stevens)   15’13                                Emanem 4053 (cd)


15ips mono ‘copy master’: NSA: C577/5 (H2006) + 15ips mono dup: C577/7 (H2023). This session was originally recorded for a proposed album issue by Chris Wellard. Expecting something more conventional, or along the lines of the ‘Challenge’ LP, Wellard was displeased with the results and it remained unreleased until it was included as a bonus track in the CD reissue of “Challenge”. It was composed while John & his wife Anne were living in Copenhagen/Amsterdam (late ‘66/early ‘67) and was said to have been inspired by feelings brought about by this temporary separation from their young son Richie.


Spontaneous Music Ensemble – studio session

Kenny Wheeler (fh), Evan Parker (ss/ts), John Stevens (perc). Rec. by Eddie Kramer at Olympic Sound Studios, London,  June 3rd, 1967.


 Distant little soul (Stevens)   27’00                        unissued


7.5ips st. copy: NSA C577/8 (H2024). The 15ips st. master for this session survives elsewhere.


Spontaneous Music Ensemble – ‘Summer 1967’ (cd – part)

Evan Parker (ts/ss*), Peter Kowald (b), John Stevens (perc). Rec. live, prob. by John Hall–Freeman, Les Cousins (coffee bar), London, ca.  August 1st, 1967.


 First Cousins (imp.)              14’46                                  Emanem 4005 (cd)

 Second Cousins (imp.)*       11’21                                                 


7.5ips mono master: NSA C577/101. This trio also played at the Little Theatre Club, August 4th, 1967. These might be the earliest extant recordings of the Ensemble playing completely unpremeditated improvisations. Reviewd in Coda Magazine, no. 268 (July-Aug 1996), p18-20; Jazztimes, vol 27 no. 1, p101


Spontaneous Music Ensemble – ‘Summer 1967’ (cd – part)

Evan Parker (ss/ts*), John Stevens (perc). Rec. in a London studio, August 16th, 1967.


 Listening together (imps.) – 1                      4’43           Emanem 4005 (cd)

                                              – 2                     8’39                            

                                              – 3*  4’42                            

                                              – 4                     4’25                            

                                              – 5                     7’13                            


15ips mono master: C577/9 [H2025]. Reviewed in Coda Magazine, no. 268 (July-Aug 1996), p18-20; Jazztimes, vol 27 no. 1, p101


Spontaneous Music Ensemble – ‘Summer 1967’ (cd – remainder)

Evan Parker (ss), John Stevens (perc). Rec. in concert at a London theatre, September 11th, 1967.


 Echo chamber music (imps.)     – 1            5’04          Emanem 4005 (cd)

                                                – 2                 3’02                            

                                                – 3                   2’08                            


Reviewed in Coda Magazine, no. 268 (July-Aug 1996), p18-20; Jazztimes, vol 27 no. 1, p101


Spontaneous Music Ensemble – ‘Willow Trio’ sessions

Evan Parker (ss), Barre Phillips (b), John Stevens (perc). Rec. by Eddie Kramer at Olympic Sound Studios, London,  September 26th, 1967.


 Willow trio – Part 1             27’25                 unissued


as above, rec October 6th, 1967


 Willow trio – Part 2             29’25                     


2 x 15ips st. copy masters: NSA C577/37–38 (H4401). Notes ‘Side 1’  & Side 2’  on the tape boxes indicate that this was another session considered for release.  The title ‘Willow trio - Parts 1 & 2’  was noted on the box of a 1967 demo tape featuring the October recording only, but  was probably intended to include both the September & October takes.. Phillips was one of several bassists who guested with the S.M.E. duo around this time.


‘Free Jazz Meeting’, Baden–Baden 1967

Don Cherry (cor), Manfred Schoof (tp), Gunter Hampel (fl), Albert Mangelsdorff (tb), Marion Brown (as), Evan Parker (ts/ss), Peter Brötzmann (ts/as), Franćois Tusques, Fred Van Hove (p), Peter Kowald, Barre Phillips, Buschi Niebergall (b), John Stevens, Pierre Courbois, Sven–Äke Johansson (d), Jeanne Lee (voc). This festival of the new jazz was organised and recorded under the auspices of writer Joachim E. Berendt in the studios of German radio station SWF (Sudwestfunk) Baden-Baden, December 16–18th, 1967. The musicians worked for approximately twelve hours each day and, according to Jak Kilby, everything was recorded. Selections were broadcast on SWF Baden-Baden.


John Stevens and the Baden–Baden Free Jazz Orchestra: the entire ensemble as noted above (not all instruments) performed at least one of John’s compositions:


 Familie (Stevens)                                         11’33


7.5ips st. copy (some distortion): NSA C577/109 (H7223). Familie was based on lines from John’s earlier compositions Little red head  and Distant little soul. He discusses this piece in the interview published in The Wire (no. 2, p30–).


Marion Brown (as), Peter Kowald (b), John Stevens (d).


 unknown title (group imp.)


Barre Phillips and the Baden–Baden Free Jazz Orchestra: Don Cherry (cor), Albert Mangelsdorff (tb), Peter Brötzmann (bars), Evan Parker (ss), Gunter Hampel (fl), Franćois Tusques (p), Barre Phillips (b), Peter Kowald (b), Buschi Niebergall (b), Pierre Courbois (d), John Stevens (d), Jeanne Lee (voc). 


 Large ensemble piece (Phillips)                  11’29


Peter Brötzmann Quintet: Don Cherry (cor), Evan Parker (sax), Peter Brötzmann (sax),  Peter Kowald (b), John Stevens (d).


 unknown title(s)


Don Cherry (cor), Albert Mangelsdorff (tb), Evan Parker (sax), Peter Kowald (b), John Stevens (d). Rec. Dec 16-18th, 1967.


 unknown title                                                 8’45


Cherry out, Parker (ss), rest as above. Rec. December 18th, 1967


 AJPE*                                                            6’30                                               15ips st. copy: NSA C577/110 (H4401)

 Relationship                                                  5’20


Other pieces featuring the large ensemble, possibly with John (but not confirmed) include:


 Sounshine and birdtales (Don Cherry)

 Namur amida butsu (Jeanne Lee)

 Kaka shoes


*as noted on the tape box but, being the initials of the performers’ names, this may not be a true title. John was also probably recorded in other groupings at the festival. The master tapes for the complete festival are probably held by Joachim E. Berendt or by SWF Baden-Baden. Festival review by Jak Kilby in Melody Maker, 6th Jan 1968, p4 (with photo).


Spontaneous Music Ensemble – ‘Familie’

Trevor Watts (pic), Brian Smith (fl), Evan Parker (ss), Peter Lemer (p), Derek Bailey (g), Nick Bryce (clo), Dave Holland (b), Jeff Clyne (b), John Stevens (d), Pepi Lemer (voc), Norma Winstone (voc). Rec. by Eddie Kramer, prob. at Olympic Sound Studios, London, January 1968.


 Familie (Stevens) [tk 1]              23’35                           unissued

 Familie (Stevens) [tk 2]              19’50                                


15ips st. copy master of take 1:  NSA C577/39 (H5421). An acetate of take 2  exists, suggesting that it was also considered for LP issue. The 15ips production master for take 2 survives elsewhere. A large Ensemble with three vocalists performed Familie  at a concert in the Purcell Room in early 1969 (not known to have been recorded).


Spontaneous Music Ensemble – ‘Karyobin’

Kenny Wheeler (tp/fh), Evan Parker (ss), Derek Bailey (g), Dave Holland (b), John Stevens (d). Rec. by Eddie Kramer at Olympic Sound Studios, London, February 18th, 1968.


 Karyobin – Parts 1–6           49’04 total                            Island ILPS 9079 (lp), Chronoscope CPE 2001–2 (cd)


7.5ips st. copy with studio talk: NSA C577/51. Sleeve notes by Victor Schonfield + (CPE 2001–2) Robert Wyatt & Gary Smith. LP reviewed in Jazz Monthly 09/68, by Barry McRae in Jazz Journal 8/68 p32, and by Bob Houston in Melody Maker 10/8/68 p15. CD reviewed by Scott Hacker in Cadence, June 1994, p24; in Jazz Journal Int, April 1994, p44. The intriguing title was apparently derived from an album of Japanese Gagaku music which inspired John prior to this recording session. The session was observed from the control booth by Yoko Ono, which led to the April 1968 Arts Lab collaboration and the March 1969 Cambridge concert with Ono and John Lennon. It is interesting to note that at this time the SME seems to have been regarded as much a part of the ‘progressive’ or ‘underground’ pop scene as the jazz scene, an excerpt from ‘Karyobin’ even being played by John Peel on his Radio 1 programme Night Ride during the early hours of 4th July 1968.


Double Trio – untitled

Evan Parker (ss), Trevor Watts (as), Dave Holland (b), Peter Kowald (b), Rashied Ali (d/perc), John Stevens (d/perc). Rec. by Eddie Kramer at Olympic Sound Studios, London, March 10th, 1968.


 Double Trio – Part 1                   30’55                           Island (unissued)

                       – Part 2                                    25’13                                          


15ips st. copy master for Part 2  : C577/40 (H4401). Playback copy (H4401) also includes a dub from a test pressing  of Part 1 . The 15ips st. production master for Part 1 , and 15ips unmixed 4-track half-inch masters for the complete session survive elsewhere. In Part 1 Ali plays small side–drum, hi–hat & cymbal while Stevens plays rest of kit including bass drum. Their roles are reversed in Part 2. A test pressing of this unreleased album (the only one known to survive) was inscribed with Island cat. no. ILPS 61. The Double Trio might be regarded as a prototype for the Peter Brötzmann Octet’s classic Machine Gun album, which was recorded two months later and makes for interesting comparison.


Spontaneous Music Ensemble with Yoko Ono – live at the Arts Lab

Evan Parker (ss), Derek Bailey (g), John Stevens (perc), Yoko Ono (voc). Rec. live, prob. at the Arts Lab, Drury Lane, London, Sunday  April 21st, 1968.


 untitled imp(s)


This concert also featured Amalgam – Trevor Watts (as/oboe), Jeff Clyne (b), John Stevens (perc) – who performed two pieces, the SME (Parker/Bailey/Stevens) without Ono, and a solo by Derek Bailey, but these are not known to have been recorded. Concert reviewed by Victor Schonfield in Melody Maker 27/4/68 p6. The recording was apparently taken away by Yoko Ono.


Spontaneous Music Ensemble – at the Akademie der Kunste, Berlin

Evan Parker (ss &/or ts), Trevor Watts (as &/or ss), Derek Bailey (g), Dave Holland (b), John Stevens (d). Possibly recorded live as part of an audio-visual exhibition on contemporary London at the Akademie der Kunste, Berlin, April 1968.


 unknown titles/imps.


Following a visit to the Drury Lane Arts Lab by Akademie director Nele Hertleng the ensemble were invited to participate in this exhibition on ‘swinging London’. Hertleng said in Summer 1995 that she believes recordings were made and possibly broadcast on German radio. She suggested that the tapes were most likely held by FMP Records, who had some involvement, or in the Akademie’s archive. However, Jost Gebers (FMP), who attended the ‘exhibition/festival’, insisted in Nov 1995 that no recordings had been made. If recordings were made and survive, they are most likely held in the archive of the Akademie der Kunste.


Spontaneous Music Ensemble – Radio 3 broadcast

Kenny Wheeler (fh), Trevor Watts (b-cl), Paul Rutherford (tb), John Stevens (perc), Norma Winstone (voc). Rec. by BBC Radio at the Playhouse theatre, London, July 14th, 1968; tr: BBC Radio 3, ‘The Spontaneous Music Ensemble’, Fri September 13th, 1968.


 Familie (Stevens)     32’55


NSA 7.5ips mono offair rec: NP1329R


Gigs: SME gig review by Victor Schonfield; Melody Maker, 14th Sept 1968, p6. SME also played at the Total Music Festival in Berlin, which was held at the Quasimodo Club as an alternative to the official Berlin Jazz Festival in November 1968. At this time the line-up of the group was: Trevor Watts (as/ss), John Stevens (d), Maggie Nicols, Carolann Nicholls (voc). The event was photographed by Jak Kilby but no recordings are known to have been made. SME gigs reviewed: Melody Maker, 22nd Feb 1969, p6; Melody Maker, 1st Nov 1969; Melody Maker, 31st Jan 1970, p6.


Amalgam – ‘Music In Our Time’ broadcast

Trevor Watts (as), Peter Lemer (p), Jeff Clyne (b), John Stevens (d). Rec. by BBC Radio, London, November 1968; tr: BBC Radio 3 ‘Music In Our Time’, Fri December 6th, 1968.


 Hope (Watts)/Judy’s Smile (Watts)                  total 15’33

 Time passing (Watts)                                                    9’22


NSA 7.5ips mono offair rec: 1224W. The programme commenced with a spoken account of the group’s history, written by Victor Schonfield and read by the presenter. One or two unbroadcast items may have been recorded at this session, including Prayer for peace  & Tales of sadness.


Amalgam - studio session acetate

There apparently exists an Amalgam acetate which previously belonged to the late Charles Fox and which is allegedly dated December 4th, 1968. However, this information has yet to be verified.


John Stevens – Spontaneous Music Ensemble (aka ‘Oliv’)

Kenny Wheeler (fh), Trevor Watts (as), Johnny Dyani (b), John Stevens (perc), Maggie Nicols (voc), Pepi Lemer (voc), Carolann Nicholls (voc). Rec. by Eddie Offord at Advision Studio, London, February 7th, 1969.


 Waiting for Giorgio                     14’02                                             unissued


add Derek Bailey (g), Peter Lemer (p)


 Waiting for Giorgio                     22’50                                                    

 Oliv I (Stevens/Nicols)               19’33                           Marmalade 608008/Polydor 2384 009 (lp)


all out except Watts, Dyani, Stevens, Nicols


 Oliv II (Stevens/Nicols)              16’02                           Marmalade 608008/Polydor 2384 009 (lp)


7.5ips mono copy of Waiting for Giorgio (short take) + Oliv II: C577/111, 7.5ips st. copy of Waiting for Giorgio  (long take): C577/112. The two (very different) versions of Waiting for Giorgio  were recorded by the ensemble whilst waiting for producer Giorgio Gomelsky to arrive at the studio but they are partly composed. The tapes held at the NSA suffer from distortion in places but the masters may be unaffected. PolyGram may have one or more unissued takes of Oliv  as the issued Oliv II  was actually the third take of this piece. Brief notes by John Stevens, Giorgio Gomelsky and Eddie Offord. Reviewed in Jazz Monthly 09/69, by Graham Boatfield in Jazz Journal (8/70) p32, by Richard Williams (briefly) in MM 27/6/70 p26 & MM 2/8/69 p18. Jak Kilby took photographs at this session.


Spontaneous Music Ensemble – live at Conway Hall

Kenny Wheeler (fh), Trevor Watts (as), Johnny Dyani (b), John Stevens (perc), Maggie Nicols (voc). Rec. live by Alan Newby & Tony Middleton, Conway Hall, Red Lion Sq., London, February 14th, 1969.


 Click piece

 Waiting for Giorgio

 Sustained piece




7.5ips quarter-track mono master survives.  


Bob Downes – ‘Dream Journey’

Nigel Carter (tp), Butch Hudson (tp), Henry Lowther (tp), Chris Pyne (tb), Jim Gregory (fl), Bob Downes (fl/ts/perc), Clive Stewart (ts), John Warren (bars), Harry Miller (b), Denis Smith (d), John Stevens (d), Derek Hogg (perc). Rec. studio, London, February 1969.


 Dream journey                                                                Philips SBL 7922 (lp)


all out except Downes, Miller, Stevens




Downes, Miller, Stevens, Smith


 Ghosts in space                                                                               

 Desert haze                                                                                      


John does not feature on other tracks in this record.


John Lennon & Yoko Ono – ‘Unfinished Music No. 2: Life With the Lions’

John Tchicai (as), Trevor Watts (as), John Lennon (g), John Stevens (d), Yoko Ono (voc), Mal Evans (watch). Rec. live at Lady Mitchell Hall, Cambridge, Sun March 2nd, 1969.


 Cambridge 1969 (imp. credited Lennon/Ono)   26’30                    Zapple 01 (lp), Zapple (USA) ST 3357 (lp)


Reissued on: Apple (Jap) EAS 80701 (lp), US boxed-set (unknown title/no.), Rykodisc RCD 10412 (CD)


This was recorded at the Anthony Barnett–organised Natural Music Festival, mainly comprising free jazz and improvising musicians. They were joined by Lennon and Ono who at that time wanted to associate themselves with "the avant garde". The issued piece detailed above was edited from the middle of a much longer performance featuring Mongezi Feza (tp), Trevor Watts (as/ss?), Dudu Pukwana (as?), Peter Bennink (?), Willem Breuker (reeds), Chris McGregor (p), Peter Lemer (p), Johnny Dyani (b), Barre Phillips (b), Louis Moholo (d), Anthony Barnett (perc?), Maggie Nicols (voc), Pepi Lemer (voc),  and the Natural Circus: Chris Francis (as) + members of the audience (perc etc.). The album sleeve appears to cite an erroneous recording date. John Stevens also performed at the festival with Louis Moholo (d), possibly as a duo, and on March 3rd in a quartet with John Tchicai (as), Willem Breuker (reeds) and possibly Johnny Dyani (b), which may or may not have been recorded. The concert was reviewed by Val Wilmer in Melody Maker 8/3/69 p6. Photo of the quartet by Val Wilmer, Musics, no 15 (Dec 1977), p26.


Amalgam – first ‘Prayer for Peace’ session

Trevor Watts (as), Barry Guy (b), Johnny Dyani (b), John Stevens (d). Rec. studio, London, ca. April 1969.


 Prayer for peace (Watts)                                                                 unissued

 Hope (Watts)                                                                                          

 other titles probably as for 20 May 1969 session                                


An acetate of this session survives.


Amalgam – ‘Prayer For Peace’

Trevor Watts (as), Jeff Clyne (b), John Stevens (d). Rec. by Eddie Offord at Advision Studios, London, May 20th, 1969.


 Tales of sadness (Watts)                             14’39                           Transatlantic TRA 196 (lp), FMR CD96 (cd)

 Judy’s smile I (Watts)                                  10’00                                                                                 

 Judy’s smile II (Watts)                                 10’12                                                                                 

 Judy’s smile III (Watts)                                8’45                                                                                  


Barry Guy (b) replaces Jeff Clyne


 Prayer for peace (Watts) take 2                  7’38                                                                                   


bassist unconfirmed, probably Barry Guy


 Hope (Watts)                                                9’07                                        unissued


7.5ips reel feat. Hope & Prayer for peace [issued take 2]  only: NSA C577/113 (H6346). Album sleeve note by Trevor Watts.


Spontaneous Music Ensemble – ‘Jazz Workshop’ broadcast

various groupings, as indicated, from the following collective personnel: Mongezi Feza (pocket tp), Paul Rutherford (tb), Trevor Watts (ss/as), Chris McGregor (p), Derek Bailey (elg), Johnny Dyani (b), Louis Moholo (perc), John Stevens (perc). Rec. by BBC Radio, London, June 6th, 1969, tr: BBC Radio 1, ‘Jazz Workshop’, Wed August 20th, 1969.


all:                                                                                                       Dot piece (Stevens)                                       1’50

Watts (ss), Dyani (b), Stevens (perc):                                            S.G.I. (2)   (group imp.)                                8’26

all (TW on as):                                                                                   Hello (Stevens)                                              7’35

Stevens (glock), Watts (as), McGregor (p), Bailey (elg):              Oliv (Stevens)                                                2’42

Feza (pock tp), Watts (as), Dyani (b), Stevens (perc):                  S.G.I. (3) (group imp.)                                   2’20

all:                                                                                                       Phrase piece (Stevens)                                 6’06

Watts (ss), Stevens (glock):                                                             Distant little soul (Stevens)                           0’37

Watts (ss), Dyani (b), Stevens (perc):                                            S.G.I. (1) (group imp.)                           11’11


’S.G.I.’   is acronym for “small group improvisation”. 


7.5ips st. copy with Distant little soul, S.G.I. (1) & S.G.I. (2) only: NSA C577/114–115. Programme presented by Victor Schonfield. Radio Times featured a photo of John this week with the caption "One of the young leaders of freely improvised jazz, which in this case emphasises the music of the group rather than that of the individual soloist."  At least one (poor quality) offair recording of the complete programme also survives.


Spontaneous Music Ensemble + guests – Edinburgh Fringe Festival

Trevor Watts (ss/as), John Stevens (d/cor?). Rec. live by Bob Brown, Edinburgh Fringe Festival, September 10th, 1969.


 unknown titles/imps.


add Mongezi Feza (tp). Rec. same location, same week


 unknown titles/imps.


add Willem Breuker (reeds). Rec. same location/week


 unknown titles/imps.


There may also be tapes from this week of performances featuring Adelhard Roidinger (b). This is one of a batch of concert recordings that were made during this period by Bob Brown. Unfortunately, nobody I have spoken to has heard from Brown in many years, so the continuing existence of these tapes cannot be confirmed.


Spontaneous Music Ensemble – studio session

Trevor Watts (ss), Steve Swallow (b), John Stevens (d). Rec. at Polydor–owned studio, London, September 25th, 1969.


 If you want to see a vision (Stevens) – Part 1               19’26        unissued

                                                            – Part 2       10’08            

 The emperor’s new dance                                             24’14            


Originally recorded for the Marmalade label, the master tapes for this unissued session are now owned by a British record producer who, to-date, has not responded to Stevens’s oft-expressed desire for it to be published.


Jeff Clyne Group – ‘Jazz Workshop’ broadcast

Ian Carr (tp), Trevor Watts (as &/or ss), Jeff Clyne (b), John Stevens (d). Rec. BBC studio, London, October 17th, 1969; tr: BBC Radio 1 ‘Jazz Workshop’, Sun November 2nd, 1969.


 Ou sont les neiges d’antan (Carr)               7’05

 Helen’s clown (Watts)                                 7’40

 Ballad (Clyne)                                               3’55

 If you want to see a vision (Stevens)           6’50


This reunion of the group was organised to promote the newly released ‘Springboard’ album on Polydor (recorded 1966).

[7.5ips mono quarter-track tape exists, some distortion]


Spontaneous Music Ensemble – studio session

Ian Carr (tp), Trevor Watts (as &/or ss), Jeff Clyne (b), John Stevens (d). Rec. for Marmalade Records at Polydor studio, London, October 17th, 1969.


 unknown titles                                                                 unissued


add Julie Driscoll (voc)


 Sustained piece (Stevens)                                             unissued

 other unknown title(s)                                                          


Jak Kilby has a note of this recording session which appears to have taken place on the same day as the BBC session above. The group was augmented by Julie Driscoll (Tippetts) who sang on a couple of pieces. No tapes from the session have yet been located but may still survive in one of PolyGram’s archives.