Trevor Watts & Liam Genockey: The Art Is In The Rhythm

Drummer Genockey hadn't improvised before joining saxophonist Watts but he turned out to be a natural as this unreleased 1989 duet shows


For many years, drummer Liam Genockey partnered Trevor Watts in his various Amalgam, Moiré Music, Drum Orchestra and String Ensemble outfits, Watts valuing Genockey’s rhythmic feel and natural way of drumming, even if the drummer had never improvised before their partnership. This previously unreleased set was recorded in November 1989, and shows clearly the beneficial relationship both enjoyed. 

Rhythmic Variants opens lightly with a sinuous Watts alto line over some skittering drums figures and then slowly gathers momentum, Genockey introducing surprise pauses that give the piece an unexpected structure. At times military in his precision, elsewhere much looser, Genockey proves adept at following the flow of Watts’s serpentine phrases as Watts introduces new ideas and then quickly develops them into something else.

Throughout their many rhythmic twists and turns, the two complement each other perfectly, always remaining alert to what their partner is doing. The excellent quality of the recording allows one to listen closely to the two, to hear them react in real time to a change in direction or emphasis, to a subtle shift of rhythm or pace.

The equally impressive Echoes Of Bird is more diffuse, its scurrying 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, at times merely commentating, elsewhere contrasting the long lines with short percussive bursts and a rolling accompaniment. Best of all perhaps is the concluding and briefer Dedicated To Eric D, Watts darting overhead on soprano as Genockey lightly lays down a supportive carpet of sound and texture.

While the art might indeed be in the rhythm, much of the interest also lies in the melody, as both deliver a series of abstract and open melodies that repeatedly catch the ear. Well done, Jazz in Britain, for making this strong recording available to us for the first time.

Rhythmic Variants; Echoes Of Bird; Dedicated To Eric D (66.01)
Watts (ss, as); Genockey (d). The Banbury Spice Mill, Oxfordshire, 3 November 1989.
Jazz in Britain JIB-39-S-CD