Like many an album on the ESP label, this one takes work to enjoy. Also like many an album on the ESP label, it's the drummer who saves things and brings order to what would otherwise be a chaotic mess. The avant-garde jazz scene was ruled by percussionists. In a music whose whole thing was freedom, it was left to the drummer to drive things along, to provide direction while the soloists tried to put themselves across, an act that took enormous concentration. J.C. Moses cracks the whip here, proving throbbing backgrounds and spare, pneumatic fills to emphatically state what the music only implies. When things get too far afield, it's Moses who lays down a sharp beat to get the band back on track. Soloists include the ubiquitous Clifford Thornton on trombone, the workman-like presence of Karl Berger on vibes, and the leader on a variety of instruments. This is a powerful artistic statement by a man one wishes had recorded more often. Unfortunately, like his labelmate, Guiseppi Logan, it seems Watts will exist more as a reputation than a musician. Those into the time and place (i.e., New York in the mid-'60s) can't get enough of this stuff and are sure to enjoy this too. For others with open ears, this is a peek into a chapter of American music that is still criminally underappreciated.
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AllMusic Review by Rob Ferrier