For many years, drummer Liam Genockey teamed up with Trevor Watts in his various Amalgam, Moiré Music, Drum Orchestra and String Ensemble outfits, with Watts valuing Genockey’s rhythmic feel and natural way of playing, even though the drummer n had never improvised before their partnership. This unreleased set was recorded in November 1989 and clearly shows the beneficial relationship they both enjoy.
Rhythmic Variants opens lightly with a winding alto line from Watts over quivering drum figures, then slowly builds momentum, Genockey introducing surprise breaks that give the piece an unexpected structure. Sometimes military in his precision, elsewhere much looser, Genockey proves adept at following the flow of Watts’ serpentine phrases as Watts introduces new ideas and then rapidly develops them into something else.
Throughout their many rhythmic twists, the two complement each other perfectly, always remaining attentive to what their partner is doing. The excellent quality of the recording makes it possible to listen attentively to both, to hear them react in real time to a change of direction or accent, to a subtle change of rhythm or pace.
Equally impressive, Echoes Of Bird is more diffuse, its hasty alto passages alternating with slow, thoughtful responses as Genockey provides a quietly supportive backdrop. His responses to Watts’ intense soliloquies are impressive in their variety, sometimes simply commented on, elsewhere contrasting long lines with short percussive bursts and rolling accompaniment. Perhaps best of all is the concluding and briefest Dedicated To Eric D, Watts soaring above the soprano as Genockey lightly lays a carpet of sound and supporting texture.
While the art may indeed be in the rhythm, much of the interest is also in the melody, as both deliver a series of abstract, open-ended melodies that repeatedly draw the ear. Kudos, Jazz in Britain, for making this strong recording available to us for the first time.
Rhythmic variants; Bird echoes; Dedicated to Eric D (66.01)
Watts (ss, as); Genokey (h). The spice mill in Banbury, Oxfordshire, November 3, 1989.
Jazz in Brittany JIB-39-S-CD