Trevor Watts: Live in Karlsruhe, Drum Energy, Mutuality, Live in Sao Paulo, Brasil and Ancestry
Trevor Watts Original Drum Orchestra
Enjambre Acustico Urukungolo
Trevor Watts/Jaime Harris
Trevor Watts/Jaime Harris
It is as if veteran saxophonist and improviser Trevor Watts is making up for a decade of relative silence, so prolific has been his release schedule of late. These offerings expose heretofore lesser known stylistic elements and global interests that typify his work and further illuminate a long and varied musical life.
Live in Karlsruhe is a rawly-recorded document of extreme power and vitality. Paralleling but not duplicating the late Joe Zawinul's interests in what was then not yet called World Music, it presents Moire Music a nonet of British and African improvisers in a more composed rock-inflected framework. It is especially fascinating to hear pianist Veryan Weston in such a structured context, grooving to the polycultural beat laid down by an airtight rhythm section. They bring some freedom to the proceedings, Watts especially engaging in his trademark interregistral, highly energetic yet mystically contemplative motific weaving.
Drum Energy, another archival recording of similar vintage and comparable sonics, is even heavier on the percussion, Watts' constantly morphing musings tempered by layers of solid granite and steel. The dynamic range on this release is greater than on Karlsruhe, the mood more varied, especially on the Caribbean-influenced penultimate track.
Mutuality scales the instrumentation down to a trio, making for transparent but full listening. This is due, in large part, to the myriad timbral possibilities of the urukungolo, a sort of hammered dulcimer played by Gibran Cervantes, which can be bowed and/or struck. Percussionist Jamie Harris is on top of every gesture, propelling the groove in direct contrast to the urukungola's hypnotic metallic drone. Watts' propensity for circular breathing is in full effect here, astonishing as he lets loose torrents of notes replete with ornaments and figurations that speak to vague but palpable exoticism. Check out the opening of this version of "Tribal for Watts in all his solo glory, similar to his 2005 majestic World Sonic (Hi 4 Head).
The two Watts/Harris duo discs might be described as showcasing what Coltrane, in a 1960 interview, called "the one essential . Pan-Asian subtleties and bold clarity blend perfectly with '60s innovations in music that is somehow both dense and accessible. The Sao Paulo concert recording and Ancestry present this partnership in crystal-clear sound, an extension of Watts' larger projects from the late '80s. The multi-reedist is playing better than ever and Harris is the perfect collaborator and as much a melodist as Watts, as can be heard on the live date. The continuous flow of sound is a wonder to hear as circular breathing is complemented perfectly by changing rhythmic cycles. This is a partnership not to be missed, summing up Watts' long-fostered musical concerns with new clarity.
Tracks and Personnel
Live in Karlsruhe
Tracks: Dreams; Shadows; Themes for America, No. 4; Themes for America, No. 1
Personnel: Trevor Watts: alto & soprano saxophones; Lianne Carroll: voice, keyboards; Richard Granville Smith: accordion; Veryan Weston: piano; Liam Genockey: drums; Colin Gibson: bass guitar; Simon Picard: soprano & tenor saxophones; Nana Tsiboe & Nana Appiah: African percussion.
Personnel: Trevor Watts: saxophones; Gibran Cervantes: urukungolo; Jamie Harris: percussion.
Live in Sao Paulo, Brasil
Personnel: Trevor Watts: reeds; Jaime Harris: percussion.
Album Title #5
Personnel: Personnel: Trevor Watts: reeds; Jaime Harris: percussion.