Hastings seems to have belatedly woken up to the fact that one of the genuine jazz and new music innovators, saxophonist Trevor Watts, is living in the town and a gratifyingly large crowd duly turned up at the Hastings Jazz Festival last Saturday to witness a peerless ninety minutes of improvisation in a duo with long time musical partner, pianist Veryan Weston.
Trevor has, of course, been one of the architects of a new musical language forged back in the 1960s in the Spontaneous Music Ensemble and his influences in terms of composition and World Music, as well as improvising, are legion. Veryan too has deep roots in improvisation and this particular duo with Trevor has been going for over 15 years.
Saturday's concert featured Veryan using an electronic midi keyboard set up which added many different sounds to his sonic palette, without ever descending into using the sounds for their own sakes. Even in the midst of complex improvisations everything fitted together and keyboard and sax dovetailed telepathically to send alternately rich and ethereal sounds out into the gathering Hastings dusk. There were no solos as such during the course of the three improvisations. This music is all about listening, reacting and respecting and it's impossible to tell which musician is taking the lead at any given moment. Both musicians took us on a global trip over the ninety or so minutes of performance, Trevor's serpentine soprano evoking eastern musics at times and Veryan taking us to the Caribbean, to name but two. Trevor also played muscular and delicate alto to fit the music. This was a music for close, eyes closed examination whilst also connecting more physically with younger audience members.
The concert finished to great audience applause. Thanks to all the festival sponsors for putting this duo on - adventurous bookings can work!
The double CD Dialogues in Two Places is available at www.hi4headrecords.com