AMALGAM

Fusion / Avant-Garde Jazz • United Kingdom
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British saxophonist Trevor Watts has been associated with the British free jazz and improvised music scene since the mid-'60s. He is perhaps best known for his involvement in the Spontaneous Music Ensemble and in other projects with drummer John Stevens. While this work filled the first two decades of his career, he has focused more on his Moiré Music projects since the 1980s.

Watts was raised in Halifax and joined the Royal Air Force when he was old enough. From the late '50s until the early '60s, he was stationed in Germany, and it was during this time that he first met, and began making music with, trombonist Paul Rutherford and Stevens. Once he left the air force, Watts helped found the New Jazz Orchestra, which occasionally backed up rock musicians as well as bluesmen such as Sonny Boy Williamson. The mid-'60s brought a quintet with Stevens and Rutherford, which
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AMALGAM Discography

AMALGAM albums / top albums

AMALGAM Prayer for Peace album cover 3.09 | 2 ratings
Prayer for Peace
Avant-Garde Jazz 1969
AMALGAM Innovation album cover 4.00 | 2 ratings
Innovation
Fusion 1975
AMALGAM Another Time album cover 3.50 | 1 ratings
Another Time
Fusion 1976
AMALGAM Samanna album cover 3.96 | 3 ratings
Samanna
Fusion 1977
AMALGAM Deep album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Deep
Fusion 1978
AMALGAM Trevor Watts Amalgam : Closer To You album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Trevor Watts Amalgam : Closer To You
Fusion 1979
AMALGAM Over the Rainbow album cover 4.00 | 1 ratings
Over the Rainbow
Fusion 1979

AMALGAM EPs & splits

AMALGAM live albums

AMALGAM Play Blackwell & Higgins album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Play Blackwell & Higgins
Avant-Garde Jazz 1973
AMALGAM Mad album cover 4.00 | 1 ratings
Mad
Fusion 1977
AMALGAM Wipe Out album cover 4.00 | 1 ratings
Wipe Out
Fusion 1979

AMALGAM demos, promos, fans club and other releases (no bootlegs)

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AMALGAM movies (DVD, Blu-Ray or VHS)

AMALGAM Reviews

AMALGAM Another Time

Album · 1976 · Fusion
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Sean Trane
After some kind of turmoil following the Innovation album, Amalgam presents a fairly different line-up with Genocky on drums, Cowling (of Gnidrolog and Pat Travers Band fame) on bass and guitarist Hayton. Coming with a cold green electronics artwork, the OT was recorded in the spring of 76 on the Vinyl Record label (can’t invent THAT, right? ;-))) ; and to my knowledge it was the first album without John Stevens and proof that there was friction between him and Watts, we find the Suzy Jay track from Innovation in a different form on the present album. For those of you that know of Welsh bassist Peter “Mars” Cowling from his rock group roots (he was the bassist/cellist of Gnidrolog in the early 70’s) and his later 70’s Pat Travers Band, Amalgam is the chronological chain between these two eras, and it’s quite a showcase for this awesome bassist.

Compared to the inaptly-titled Innovation album, Another Time is definitely more groundbreaking and experimental album. Indeed we’re facing a complex fusion that although will make you move your booty as Innovation did, it probably won’t have the same effect on most of the wives and girlfriend, because it could be a tad challenging for them, but this applies to a lot of standard-jazzheads as well. Right from the first few notes of the opening Jive, you know you’ll be in for a technical adventure, but man do these guys have the chops! This was my first acquaintance with Steve Hayton’s guitar string torture and what en experience it was… but it’s also been a lone encounter. Anyone know of his other stuff, outside the Watts crowd? But to be honest, the real show stealer is “Mars” Cowling amazing and wandering bass while Watts’ sax remains fairly melodic throughout the album, and Gennocky’s drumming is as inventive as possible. The Suzy track is more accessible than on the Innovation album, though. The Trane homage is correct, but a little too jumpy and technical IMHO. The most complex track of the album is Just East Of Mars, the only track where Watts allowed a co-credit, but the nearly-dissonant Eastern-European sax makes a strange mix with the rhythm, but it doesn’t take a long time before getting used to it.

On the flipside, 11-mins+ title track opens on a lengthy bass and drums intro, before Watts and Hayton come in unison and later more sax is dubbed on, while the guitar will play second fiddle, but still manage to pull it out brilliantly. Some impressive bass tricks & chops open-up the album-closing Chips, but this is the toughest track to get into, because Watts veers fairly dissonant, which doesn’t really help out the album’s overall cause. Although Another Time is fine JR/F album, it does venture off a little too left-field at times, thus hurting its chance with more-conventional listeners. I personally think that this, Samanna and Innovation are their top three releases.

AMALGAM Innovation

Album · 1975 · Fusion
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Sean Trane
Can’t remember if Innovation is Amalgam’s fourth or fifth album, but its probably their better known, or most readily available (distribution-wise), despite a boring blue artwork. On the present, the original Trio is now a sextet that includes Tippett’s piano, Quaye’s congas and features the double bass combination of Lindsey Cooper (of Henry Cow fame) and Kent (un-Ron) Carter and the usual original drummer John Stevens and of course your very own Trevor Watts on sax. One of the amazing feat of this album is that most of the tracks are John Stevens compositions, as opposed to previously being of Watts.

Despite a fairly difficult opening moment, theca most-12 mins Staggering quickly finds its feet and settles on a cool groove, allowing Watts and Tippett to wander around, sometimes melodically, sometimes more dissonant and the interplay between Gennocky, Kent and Keith is amazing, and it augurs well for the rest of the album. The 10-mins+ When Is Now is just as enthralling and its round groove is quite communicative as well, and you’d swear at one point that Watts toyed with a flute in the background. Needless to say that the happy mood is really due to Quaye’s delightful congas.

On the flipside, the almost 8-mins Hello is again hinting at the happy-go-lucky-mood/groove of the band, even if Watts goes somewhat dissonant at times, but the music is simply too exciting that most standard jazz-heads won’t mind. The mood suddenly grows more serious with the modal Suzie Jay, the only Watts-penned song that sort of sticks out like a sore thumb, because we definitely hear the change for a more-standard jazz with Lindsey Cooper’s contrabass, but we cannot call it experimental at all. Suzie could’ve fitted on their PFP debut album though, better than here. The closing 6-mins Austrian Roll returns to the cool groove of the rest of the album.

Innovation is really a different kind of album in Amalgam’s discography, and it probably caused a rift between Stevens and Watts, because I believe Gennocky would take over the drum stool from now on. Not representative to say the least, but I like it.

AMALGAM Samanna

Album · 1977 · Fusion
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
Sean Trane
Second-last album (I think) before Amalgam would loose its name and become Trevor Watts’ personal vehicle (not that it wasn’t before), and Samana sees the returnof Peter “Mars” Cowling (of Gnidrolog and Pat Travers Band fame) on bass (thus giving Amalgam a double bass-guitar attack, each on its own L or R channel) and Dave Cole on guitar. Recorded in the very early part of 77, Samanna is graced by a purple & orange geometric artwork that doesn’t speak well for its musical contents.

The opening sidelong title track is a wild fusion piece with some slightly dissonant passages, but the wild double bass-guitar attack is quite impressively funky (ala Stanley Clarke) and drives effortlessly the track throughout its 21-mins duration. Cole’s guitar shines occasionally (notably in the 2/3 to3/4 of the track. but mostly remains discrete, leaving clear the 8-lane freeway open to Watt’s wild sax meanderings.

Over the flipside, the 5-mins Mass features a cooler funky fusion, still double-bassed, where the twins take turn in playing lead bass over a “simple” descending sax riff. The B-side’s highlight is the almost 15-mins Unity, despite a slow start, where Watts lets it all hang out, but the bass twins slowly and gradually clutch in the overdrive gear, letting Cole’s guitar get a wide chunk of funk in the mix as well. As the track climaxed around its 2/3, it slowly dies down to nought. The 7-mins Berlin Wall closes the album in a pronounced dissonant sax spree, which was not a wise choice to close Samanna.

Well, Amalgam’s musical directions vary much from album to album, but Samanna is firmly entrenched in the funky jazz-fusion and this is no doubt due to the two bass players complimenting each other marvellously as if they were twins from birth onwards. Watts’ sax adventures are indeed still the driving force of the album, but here, the twin bass-cylinder unleash plenty of energy and power to the aural expansions on this slice of wax

AMALGAM Prayer for Peace

Album · 1969 · Avant-Garde Jazz
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
Sean Trane
An amazing first album for this Amalgamated quartet (well a trio really, since the second bassist only plays on the closing title track), a project lead by saxman Trevor Watts, PFP might seem a tad psychedelic due to the strongly artistic late-60’s artwork, but it’s quite misleading, because the music is firmly entrenched in the jazz realm, somewhere between free-form and traditional jazz. It might be a little misleading to label the present album as avant-garde, but we’re not that far away from Impulse!’s New Thing.

What can be said of a sax-lead trio, as the possibilities are rather limited and everything that could be done has been said in the sidelong Tales Of Sadness opening the FPF album. Watts’ sax does go sometimes beyond the dissonance barrier, but it’s nothing shocking to open trad-jazzheads. The soundscapes are a tad more extreme or free in the three-part Judy’s Smile (actually three improvisations on the original theme) that fills most of the flipside, but again nothing too screechy or dissonant, as all three remain gentle both rhythmically and harmonically. The closing title has Barry Guy on the bowed-contrabass, but while I generally like this, in this case, I find it a miss. So, while PFP is certainly worthy of a listen (or five), I wouldn’t say that it is haunting or fascinating and certainly won’t rivet you to the edge of your seat.

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