Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music

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WATTS, Trevor

(b 26 Feb. '39, London) Alto and soprano sax. Played rock and blues early '60s, then became a free improviser with a penchant for linear melodicism and a leaning towards a folkish sound, the most effective British disciple of Ornette Coleman. He was a founder member of the Spontaneous Music Ensemble '65 with drummer John Stevens; like Stevens, Derek Bailey and other first-rate UK jazzmen, he worked hard at keeping busy after the manner of the AACM in Chicago, rather than waiting for work to come to him: he formed groups Amalgam, the String Ensemble, the Drum Orchestra, Moiré Music, record label Arc '83; also played in Open Circle with Stephens and Danny Thompson and other groups; played over the years with Steve Lacy, Bobby Bradford, Don Cherry, Keith Tippett, many more. Watts returned to the Spontaneous Music Ensemble replacing Evan Parker, and Face To Face '73, reissued on an Emanem CD, was a duo with Stevens, Watts's work more raw and abstract than the lyricism he soon turned to. On an Ogun CD he played with the Elton Dean's sextet's Unlimited Sax Company '89, live at a Covent Garden Jazz Festival. Watts's LPs as leader since '76 were on Ogun, ECM, Impetus, Arc, Byg, Japo, Vinyl, Cadillac; CDs incl. Live In Latin America Vol. 1 '90 on Arc with Colin Gibson on electric bass, one Western and four African drummers; Moiré Music Drum Orchestra '93 on ECM (aka A Wider Embrace) had Colin McKenzie on bass and five Ghanaian drummers incl. Paapa J. Mensah; the Moiré Music Trio '95 on Intakt with McKenzie and Mensah was stripped-down freshness and sparkling fun.