AMM vs. SME

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which of these two radical British free improv groups do you prefer?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iI8ii6CT_pU
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nTkSwnootBE

Poll Results

OptionVotes
AMM 22
Spontaneous Music Ensemble 1


Arty, Noisy, Weird, Funky, Punky Pope (crüt), Monday, 11 February 2013 19:27 (nine years ago) link

I'm leaning toward AMM for The Crypt and for telling Ornette Coleman to fuck off.

Arty, Noisy, Weird, Funky, Punky Pope (crüt), Monday, 11 February 2013 19:28 (nine years ago) link

voted AMM, because the dead c are 'the AMM of punk rock'

but also because, i guess we have to judge these groups on the basis of their available recordings and on the whole, i prefer to listen to AMM, esp in their 'classic' Rowe/Tilbury/Prevost line-up (tho' Karyobin by the SME is a great listen, too.} Crude generalistation, but SME seem much more tied to their historical moment, and to jazz history, even as something to negate or advance, where p early on AMM developed their own unique aesthetic which is harder to locate within any partic 'tradition'. Also love the only Rowe-Prevost AMM rec, which is unusually 'rock' and perhaps a gd entry-point:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Fh9FYUDCp0

Ward Fowler, Monday, 11 February 2013 19:43 (nine years ago) link

i wuvs da AMM but...
(a) keith rowe's "boing"
(b) cornelius cardew
so SME for me.
despite john stevens' cornet playing.
more humility.

massaman gai, Monday, 11 February 2013 19:55 (nine years ago) link

Voted AMM because I saw the classic line-up play several times in the '90s and they were some of the most exquisite experiences I've ever had in a live concert setting. The combination of Tilbury's unnerving piano, Prevost's sorrowful percussion and Rowe's otherworldly guitar was just overwhelming. I've seen them a couple of times since Rowe left and it just hasn't been the same :(

my father will guide me up the stairs to bed (anagram), Monday, 11 February 2013 20:23 (nine years ago) link

Feel like I should vote SME because they're more "jazz" than AMM, and AMM have inspired a whole lot of really horrible shit (the whole "eai" aesthetic/movement), but I'll probably vote AMM anyway.

誤訳侮辱, Monday, 11 February 2013 21:08 (nine years ago) link

Not sure about AMM inspiring eai. Prevost was very disparaging about the eai movement in his second book, and scathing about Rowe's involvement in it - which led directly to Rowe's departure. I think AMM and eai were coming from different places altogether.

my father will guide me up the stairs to bed (anagram), Monday, 11 February 2013 22:05 (nine years ago) link

I think AMM and eai were coming from different places altogether.

Except for, you know, Keith Rowe. Seriously, it's not a descent/lineage thing, but there are definite aesthetic and philosophical commonalities.

誤訳侮辱, Monday, 11 February 2013 22:44 (nine years ago) link

looking forward to reading a post itt from someone who knows what they're talking about

administrator galina (Matt P), Monday, 11 February 2013 22:51 (nine years ago) link

great post

Arty, Noisy, Weird, Funky, Punky Pope (crüt), Monday, 11 February 2013 23:12 (nine years ago) link

Except for, you know, Keith Rowe. Seriously, it's not a descent/lineage thing, but there are definite aesthetic and philosophical commonalities.

Well I think Prevost would probably have said that what Rowe was doing in things like MIMEO was in direct opposition to the AMM aesthetic. Rowe said something about being so engrossed in what he was doing when he was playing that he couldn't listen to the other players. This was like a red rag to Prevost for whom the whole process of music-making is essentially dialogic.

my father will guide me up the stairs to bed (anagram), Tuesday, 12 February 2013 08:12 (nine years ago) link

looking forward to reading Matt P's reminiscences of the Little Theatre Club so he can school all us know-nothings

to confirm my ignorance, is the eai aesthetic/movement the same or different from the new reductionism? cos if so, fuck that non-noise

Ward Fowler, Tuesday, 12 February 2013 09:06 (nine years ago) link

I'm leaning toward AMM for The Crypt and for telling Ornette Coleman to fuck off.

It was Steve Lacy and they didn't tell him to fuck off, just tried to dissuade him from sitting in.

AMM are very firm in what they do and the ethos underlying their doing, and extend themselves as far as they can within these boundaries (if boundaries they be), whereas the subtext of SME, whatever the line-up, was that John S just wanted the other musicians to sound like him (as both Trevor Watts and Evan Parker have told me at different times), maybe even to be him.

My vote would go to Music Improvisation Company but hey ho.

Someone (Martin Davidson?) needs to keep that SME reissue programme rolling. Oliv, The Source, So What Do You Think? - all sorely requiring re-circulation.

great post Marcello - was also going to rep for that amazing Music Improvisation Company rec - did the SME ever have a similar electronic edge?

Ward Fowler, Tuesday, 12 February 2013 09:29 (nine years ago) link

Not really; after Derek Bailey left they seemed to be intent on getting more acoustic. The electric stuff went into John Stevens' jazz-rockish group Away (who I remember seeing on the Old Grey Whistle Test!).

AMM

Le petit chat est mort (Tom D.), Tuesday, 12 February 2013 11:53 (nine years ago) link

Good call on the MIC, Marcello. I woulda voted for them, too.

Tarfumes The Escape Goat, Tuesday, 12 February 2013 13:47 (nine years ago) link

Marcello, I know about Steve Lacy, but they told Ornette Coleman to leave too.

Arty, Noisy, Weird, Funky, Punky Pope (crüt), Tuesday, 12 February 2013 14:06 (nine years ago) link

Good Lord, they wouldn't have done that with Archie Shepp (cue Eddie Prevost: "When I regained consciousness...").

There was a piece about them in the Wire circa '84 where Rowe and Gare bad-mouthed their time in the Mike Westbrook band and an irate Westbrook wrote back in the next month's letters pages telling them not to try it.

I'm not familiar enough with any of them tbh, but AMM, and Rowe in particular, have always really impressed me.

I was reading an interview with Evan Parker the other day, I didn't realise how much animosity there was between him and Derek Bailey, seems like they really didn't get on well at all.

Crackle Box, Tuesday, 12 February 2013 15:10 (nine years ago) link

looking forward to reading a post itt from someone who knows what they're talking about

― administrator galina (Matt P), Monday, February 11, 2013 10:51 PM (Yesterday) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

I think this is Matt P's vote for SMH.

emil.y, Tuesday, 12 February 2013 15:12 (nine years ago) link

(I voted AMM, btw)

emil.y, Tuesday, 12 February 2013 15:12 (nine years ago) link

AMM vs SME vs MIC vs MEV vs Gruppo di Improvvisazione Nuova Consonanza (these guys spoiling it on the 3-letter name front tbh)

Zon vs Aviary (Matt #2), Tuesday, 12 February 2013 15:16 (nine years ago) link

xpost

Parker fell out w/ Bailey and Tony Oxley p heavily over Incus recs, which was set up by the three of them, until Parker was ousted - it's THE faultline in British improv.

There's an amazing live Cecil Taylor alb called Nailed on FMP that features both Oxley and Parker playing together, for the first (and last) time since the Incus fall-out, and where the tension between the two of 'em is pretty palpable.

Ward Fowler, Tuesday, 12 February 2013 15:17 (nine years ago) link

Oxley pulled out of Incus quite early on, and Derek told Evan to eff off in the eighties. Something to do with their doing a duo gig in Rome and DB finding out EP was getting paid more than him, as I understand it.

I thought it all started when they first met, Parker was a bit late for whatever reason and ever since then Bailey made an effort to be late or not show at all.

Crackle Box, Tuesday, 12 February 2013 16:21 (nine years ago) link

iirc there's a good david keenan interview in the wire w/ bailey not long before he died, where DB gives his side of the story. at times it's def been presented as an ideological split (maybe in the ben watson bk on bailey?) w/ parker painted as the bourgeois jazzer hoovering up arts council grants and the other two as resolute purists...tho' i'm sure the full story is more complicated and messier.

Ward Fowler, Tuesday, 12 February 2013 16:36 (nine years ago) link

I think I read somewhere that Parker joining up with the Charlie Watts big band was what fueled the feud. Bailey basically thought Parker a sellout at that point.

Tarfumes The Escape Goat, Tuesday, 12 February 2013 16:53 (nine years ago) link

I thought ol' Delboy Bailey fell out with everyone he ever worked with - including Ernie Wise.

AMM vs SME vs MIC vs MEV vs Gruppo di Improvvisazione Nuova Consonanza

Love me some Gruppo di Improvvisazione Nuova Consonanza

Le petit chat est mort (Tom D.), Tuesday, 12 February 2013 16:55 (nine years ago) link

Yeah I read that interview recently, there's also one with Parker shortly after DB passed (I got given 100+ Wire issues from the 90s through about 2007 so I've been reading those on the way to work). Both interviews are great. I'll upload em if I get a chance (and if that isn't too frowned upon here).

xposts

Crackle Box, Tuesday, 12 February 2013 16:59 (nine years ago) link

DB seemed like such a character, would have loved to have seen him play. He's come up a few times when I've been chatting to the the Boat-Ting lot and some of the Sheff/Leeds Improv people, everybody seems to have a great DB story!

Crackle Box, Tuesday, 12 February 2013 17:01 (nine years ago) link

I saw him play at the Klinker club in north London, may have been the last time he played in Britain before he died? He signed my CD and was a true gent. IIRC he had a tap dancer with him that night.

my father will guide me up the stairs to bed (anagram), Tuesday, 12 February 2013 23:08 (nine years ago) link

I interviewed Bailey once, saw him play at Tonic a time or two. Really nice guy, good sense of humor. Never got the impression he was one of those d-bags who spells improv with a capital I, if you know what I mean.

誤訳侮辱, Wednesday, 13 February 2013 03:25 (nine years ago) link

Met DB couple of times. Really nice guy and completely worthy hero to many. Him and EP just weren't fated to get on is all.

OG requiem head (Call the Cops), Wednesday, 13 February 2013 07:12 (nine years ago) link

I voted for AMM just because I think that what they made works better as albums.

OG requiem head (Call the Cops), Wednesday, 13 February 2013 07:13 (nine years ago) link

Never got the impression he was one of those d-bags who spells improv with a capital I, if you know what I mean.

― 誤訳侮辱, Tuesday, February 12, 2013 10:25 PM (Yesterday) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

This is OTMFM. He never, ever approached his work as Free Improv, and yet sadly, the legions he inspired/influenced do just that.

Tarfumes The Escape Goat, Wednesday, 13 February 2013 16:07 (nine years ago) link

AMM

HuffPo Sideboob/Underboob Bureau Chief (WilliamC), Wednesday, 13 February 2013 16:09 (nine years ago) link

I saw him play at the Klinker club in north London, may have been the last time he played in Britain before he died? He signed my CD and was a true gent. IIRC he had a tap dancer with him that night.

― my father will guide me up the stairs to bed (anagram), Tuesday, 12 February 2013 23:08 (Yesterday) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

I'm pretty sure his last gig in britain was a group thing with tony bevan, which I went to. I was 19 & didn't know much about improv (still don't!) and I thought it was amazing. I got there crazy early - it was only like my 3rd london gig - and talked to derek. Such a cool guy! He pretended never to have heard of himself, it was v funny. I guess you had to be there. Karen was cool too. She said something funny about michael nyman. The whole experience seemed really amazing and magical in a way that's kind of hard to place now.

I got really melancholy while typing that and I'm not sure why.

On Being Blue (Da Ba Dee): A Philosophical Inquiry (wins), Wednesday, 13 February 2013 20:21 (nine years ago) link

nice post, wins. i remember that bailey died on or around christmas day, which only added to the sense of melancholy surrounding his death, and for me, this gnawing feeling of loss (to music, to british cultural life) seems to only increase with time - as if a whole tradition, a way of life, was swept away with him. i miss him more than just about any other musician i can think of.

Ward Fowler, Wednesday, 13 February 2013 20:48 (nine years ago) link

Would've done AMM vs.:

http://www.emanemdisc.com/images/E4301.jpeg

Or Lenin vs Mao.

xyzzzz__, Thursday, 14 February 2013 23:00 (nine years ago) link

Feel like I should vote SME because they're more "jazz" than AMM, and AMM have inspired a whole lot of really horrible shit (the whole "eai" aesthetic/movement), but I'll probably vote AMM anyway.

― 誤訳侮辱, Monday, 11 February 2013 Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

This is wrong, it wasn't just AMM. That Keith turned up to a lot of it doesn't mean a great deal.

AMM, like so much free improv, are a mish-mash of jazz, serial music, chance procedures and all kinds of ideas that live outside those music circles some of the people involved came from initially, and I'm not just talking about the western avant-garde: if you look at what Bailey says about recording apes in a roundabout way what an Indian raga musician might suggest about his music as achieving an ecstatic experience with the audience or a higher being, and how that couldn't be mediated via a record (of course others were keen on records).

You can look at eai as dealing w/how a lot of those sonics generated via improv were recorded in the first place, how they are heard by subsequent generations and then played back at an audience that knows those records.

Another point of departure is company week where you had a dancer or a sound artist being invited along. Or Steve Beresford. Someone who doesn't quite have the chops or tech but brings other qualities that aren't whatever but will then be transformed. eai is a further departure because its so record based, with electronics too so that's where MEV and David Tudor (by all accounts a great pianist who gave it up) come in.

xyzzzz__, Thursday, 14 February 2013 23:49 (nine years ago) link

The Charlie Watts Big Band was actually put together by John Stevens, and had guys in it like Paul Rutherford with whom DB certainly didn't stop playing (not to mention that Chas produced the first People Band album back in '68) so I'm not sure that really had anything to do with it.

I saw them at Fulham Town Hall in '86. Bit of a mess but quite enjoyable.

Feel a tad guilty that so many DB fans here didn't actually ever see him live when I saw him 6 or 7 times and I'm not even a fan! Admittedly the first 3 occasions were attempts by me to work out whether I actually liked what he was doing or not (or "understand", if you prefer), the rest he was just there when I showed up to the gig.

Le petit chat est mort (Tom D.), Friday, 15 February 2013 11:54 (nine years ago) link

Interesting, didn't know about Stevens' and Rutherford's involvement with Watts. I read an interview with Parker where he said Charlie was always trying to get him to play more "out" in that band.

Tarfumes The Escape Goat, Friday, 15 February 2013 14:36 (nine years ago) link

btw, here are four programs on improvisation, presented by DB.

xyzzzz__, Friday, 15 February 2013 20:25 (nine years ago) link

Gah! Been looking for those! Thanks!

Tarfumes The Escape Goat, Friday, 15 February 2013 20:29 (nine years ago) link

Started watching them last week for the first time, its a model on how music docs should be done.

Not saying he wasn't nice in person but turn to his spiky comments on jazz and the museum in the 3rd EP..

xyzzzz__, Saturday, 16 February 2013 10:14 (nine years ago) link

voted AMM, in a non-shocker.

jon abbey, Sunday, 17 February 2013 01:59 (nine years ago) link

Automatic thread bump. This poll is closing tomorrow.

System, Thursday, 28 February 2013 00:01 (nine years ago) link

ha, the Iskra 1903 reminder above reminds me that when Hughie Green did his big "Stand Up And Be Counted" meltdown on Opportunity Knocks at the beginning of '77, both Derek B and Paul R were in the studio orchestra behind him!

Here he is with the classic "Poème Électronique." Good track (Marcello Carlin), Thursday, 28 February 2013 14:33 (nine years ago) link

Wow! (Though lost on anyone other than me, Marcello + few others)

.... the rest look like Dudley Sutton (Tom D.), Thursday, 28 February 2013 14:35 (nine years ago) link

That is awesome.

Call the Cops, Thursday, 28 February 2013 15:21 (nine years ago) link

Automatic thread bump. This poll's results are now in.

System, Friday, 1 March 2013 00:01 (nine years ago) link

c'mon who voted SME

my father will guide me up the stairs to bed (anagram), Friday, 1 March 2013 06:17 (nine years ago) link

four years pass...

Lou Gare, founder member of AMM, passed away earlier this month. RIP.

This compilation w/some early unreleased AMM is now circulating:

http://inconstantsol.blogspot.com/2017/10/lou-gare-compilation-1965-1985.html

heaven parker (anagram), Wednesday, 25 October 2017 11:06 (four years ago) link

four years pass...

Lock up yer daughters, the AMM boys are on tour.

https://noisenotmusicdotcom.files.wordpress.com/2018/01/l-r_eddie_prevost_john_tilbury_keith_rowe__pisa__mid-_1980s.jpg

When Smeato Met Moaty (Tom D.), Monday, 13 December 2021 18:29 (six months ago) link

six months pass...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F9AbMBDjCys

fpsa, Thursday, 16 June 2022 16:52 (two weeks ago) link

Thanks for posting that!

WmC, Thursday, 16 June 2022 18:01 (two weeks ago) link


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