Continuing with the Amalgam/Jeff Clyne-oriented posts, this was recorded after the "Prayer for Peace" we posted here before. After this recording, Amalgam was to head off in a more explicit fusion direction with a change in personnel with John Stevens vacating the drum chair and Jeff Clyne leaving the bass to others. Interestingly, Clyne became a member of Nucleus and in the mid-70s started his own fusion project under the name of Turning Point. Stevens himself started the band Away, but we'll get to all of that in due course.
Meanwhile, here they are all in tribute mode - to the drummers of the early Ornette Coleman combos and to Coleman himself, of course. In the liner notes, Watts credits the natural melody and the pure rhythm approach of Coleman and the influence both drummers had on the evolution of Stevens. This is not tribute by way of emulation, but by feel - by playing what's right in the given context. Only two tracks here, both recorded live with Stevens down in the steam room, the bassists plying lightly in the background and Watts up front with short bursts of melodic rhythm. Perhaps that is a key characteristic of Watts - the sense of rhythm - strongly explored in later years with his various percussive combos under the moniker of Moire music. Still active, I'm happy to say and just recorded for the Berlin-based Jazz Werkstatt label. Amalgam was a vehicle for the development of the more convential side of the duo's playing; the Spontaneous Music Ensemble another vehicle for going beyond the conventions. And Stevens is a thrill here - his stamina is just amazing!
1. Blackwell (Stevens). Live at Birmingham Arts Lab 23.3.1972
Trevor Watts - alto, John Stevens - drums, Ron Herman - bass
2. Higgins (Stevens) Live at Phoenix, London 24.1.1973
Trevor Watts - alto, John Stevens - drums, Jeff Clyne - bass
This is off a 2004 cd rerelease on FMR Records, originally issued in 1973 on the A label.
Recorded by Trevor Watts, re-mix by Dave Pickett and sleeve design by Margaret Richards