Trevor Watts/Moiré Music Drum Orchestra: A Wider Embrace (ECM 1449)

Trevor Watts
Moiré Music Drum Orchestra
A Wider Embrace

Trevor Watts alto and soprano saxophones
Nana Tsiboe african drums, congas, gonje, djembe, lead twanga, wea flute, vocals
Nee-Daku Patato congas, african drums, berimbau, bells, cabasa, vocals
Jojo Yates mbira, twanga, cowbells, african drums, bells, cabasa, wea flute, vocals
Nana Appiah african drums, lead wea flute, shakers, cabasa, cowbells, vocals
Paapa J. Mensah kit drums, shakers, wea flute, vocals
Colin McKenzie bass guitar
Recorded April 1993 at Angel Studios, London
Engineer: Gary Thomas
Produced by Steve Lake

Blending Ghanaian folk music with groove and jazz elements, saxophonist Trevor Watts and bassist Colin McKenzie join a group of multitalented drummers for one of ECM’s smoothest crossovers. My ignorance of all the musicians involved allowed me to take its sounds as they came during my first listen. The energy that surges from the first drum hit of “Egugu” frees a chorus of voices calling to the sky as every drum leaves a footprint upon the plains. Watts treats these visions not as mere backdrop but as an environment into which he must totally integrate himself. The medley that follows is an album in and of itself, starting with the spirited “Ahoom Mbram” and ending with the drums-only “Tetegramatan.” Watts adds a nice rasp to his soprano in “Opening Gambit” (and don’t miss the shawm-like circular strains of “Brekete Takai”), while “Otublohu” brings on the fun(k) and then some with some heady alto work over a firm grounding of bass and get-out-of-your-seat-and-dance rhythms. After the pleasant excursions of “Bomsu” and the a cappella “Hunters’ Song: Ibrumankuman,” the tinkling percussion of “The Rocky Road To Dublin” dives into a swanky trio with an ecstatic finish. The jazziest moods await in “Southern Memories.” Throwing his smoky alto into the night, Watts engages a funky bass line and powerful vocals, only to recede for the congregation of flutes and spirits in “We Are,” which carries us out on invisible wings.

A fantastic coming together, superbly recorded. This is the art of song personified.

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