The presence and influence of African music on the British jazz scene goes back nearly three decades; so in 1982, when the kinetic and forceful saxophonist Trevor Watts founded the Moire Music Drum Orchestra, he had an established tradition on which to draw. The use of the name “moire” suggests the layering of two patterns to create a third, and in a way that also describes the makeup of the Drum Orchestra, in which Watts heads a saxophone/bass/drums free-jazz trio augmented by a quartet of Ghanaian drummers. The Drum Orchestra is in fact a scaled-down offshoot of Watts’s larger band, called Moire Music; but in the Drum Orchestra, it is improvisation rather than composition that becomes the tool for synthesizing a new form from African and European musics. As you’d expect, the music is rhythm-driven, with simplified structures and an irresistible pulse; you may be surprised, though, at the ease with which the music glides out to melodic abstraction and back again. It’s a sure bet that, both in England and on this continent, Trevor Watts is far less known than, say, the younger (and commercially savvier) Courtney Pine. But another sure bet is that Courtney Pine was listening to groups like the Drum Orchestra before branching out into his own African-dominated projects. Saturday, 8 PM, Southend Musicworks, 1313 S. Wabash; 939-2848.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Jak Kilby.