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Thursday February 23, 2017
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Trevor Watts

 

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Like many other London improvisers, Watts was touched by the influence of expatriate South African musicians who had moved there, and he even played in drummer Louis Moholo's group. In the 1980s he also began to think more seriously about composition and arranging, and he combined all of this in a series of orchestras that he called Moiré Music. These groups incorporated African rhythms and African musicians, as well as a broad range of instruments, including the violin and the electric bass, in various combinations, with sometimes up to ten participants. Ever restless, Watts visited Venezuela in 1990 to study local black music and eventually created a thirty-five-member group of musicians, actors, and singers that performed in Europe and recorded an important CD.

Most recently, he has assembled a new eight-piece Celebration Band that combines his interests in European and African folk forms with elements of jazz and dance music. Although he still features solo improvisations, this group is a vehicle for his tightly arranged compositions that are designed to lift the heart and move the feet. The Celebration Band is above all a great celebration of the diversity of human music; it flies in the face of bland "world music" and demonstrates that players of different backgrounds can make coherent music together without losing their individuality and can revel in sound and rhythm. Most important, it is great fun!

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