A concert by this 'supergroup', as described in the Vortex brochure, anywhere else in Europe would have had punters hanging from the rafters. It says more for the British audience for challenging music than the music itself that unfortunately this was not the case last night.
Trevor Watts was one of the architects of the very language of European improvised music and his history alone, taking in the Spontaneous Music Ensemble, Amalgam, Moire Music and his Drum Orchestra, not to mention numerous other less permanent aggregations would have signalled a good turnout on the continent.
This quartet played two 45 minute sets of total concentration and invention and at one stage you could hear a pin drop as Watts coaxed filigrees and slithers of near silent breath tones from his soprano.
The detail in the music was incredibly dense with no resort to cliches. The 'rhythm section' of John Edwards and Mark Sanders were rhythmic throughout but without ever needing to lock into a groove or repetitive beat. Sanders used sticks, tom tom beaters, brushes and a bow to extract the maximum of different sounds from all surfaces of his kit and cymbals whilst never losing the feel of the music. John Edwards bass playing was phenomenal - what he doesn't know about or can't do on his instrument is irrelevant! He put in a superb shift - no part of the music unexplored.
One is tempted to say go and see Tony Bevan just to be awe struck by his playing of the gargantuan bass saxophone. Suffice to say though that the sounds he gets from the instrument often bear no semblance to what one thinks this massive instrument should produce! His soprano playing was pretty excellent too! Which brings us to Watts - and to see him wailing over Edwards and Sanders on his alto as Bevan took a rest was a joy to behold.
Next time these guys play together in the UK go to see them. You won't be disappointed and you may be surprised!