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CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Libor Smoldas Quartet & Bobby Watson: Intuition

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One of Europe's rising young jazz star is Prague-based guitarist/composer and educator Libor Smoldas who unveils his fifth album as leader with the highly accessible Intuition featuring an all-Czech Republic quartet with alto saxophonist great Bobby Watson appearing as guest. Recorded at the end of the group's Czech tour, the album is in a sense, a follow up to their 18 Days, 2000 Miles (New Port Line, 2012) project coming out of the band's U.S. tour in 2012. Blending a series of original tunes with a Watson cover, the music is traditional straight ahead with elements of hard-bop, jazz-rock and ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Bobby Watson: The Gates BBQ Suite

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An esteemed alto saxophonist, Bobby Watson serves up some “down to the bone" goodness in The Gates BBQ Suite. The seven-part suite for large ensemble features the University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory of Music & Dance Concert Jazz Orchestra, and is a heartfelt tribute to Watson's hometown of Kansas City--the people, the culture, and tastes, which includes the area's landmark Gates Barbecue restaurant. Watson's big band masterwork epitomizes an illustrious career of more than 25 years, with notables from Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers to Carlos Santana and a number of impressionable recordings that have inspired younger leaders ...

LIVE REVIEWS

Bobby Watson at the Saville Theater, San Diego, CA

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Bobby Watson Quartet Saville Theater (San Diego City College) San Diego, CA May 11, 2010 Currently based in Kansas City, where he teaches at the University of Missouri/ Conservatory of Music, Bobby Watson has a long, storied career. He attended music school in Miami in the 1970's, where his classmates included Pat Metheny, Jaco Pastorius, Mike Stern, and Mark Egan. After leaving school, he joined the legendary Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, serving as musical director from 1977-81. Since then, he has worked with a veritable “Who's Who" of modern jazz like Max ...

LIVE REVIEWS

Kind of Blue Turns 50: Bobby Watson Quartet at the Kimmel Center

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Bobby Watson QuartetJazz Up Close: Kind of Blue Turns 50Honoring Cannonball Adderly and John Coltrane, SaxophonesKimmel Center Perelman TheaterPhiladelphia, PennsylvaniaMarch 28, 2009The great Bobby Watson, still in “mid-life" at age 53, is a seasoned “heavy" on the alto sax whose playing echoes saxophone greats from Phil Woods to Cannonball Adderley, as well as tenor titans Dexter Gordon to Sonny Rollins, yet with his own incomparable virtuosity. Something must have been in the air at the Kimmel Center, because he was even better than when I heard him in New York at ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

James Williams & Bobby Watson: Soulful Serendipity

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It would be enough just to comment on the wonderful music on this CD, recorded in the unique and encouraging setting of a June 2003 “house concert," yet it also must be noted that this is probably one of the last recordings of the great pianist James Williams, who passed away in July 2004 at the age of 52. The feelings throughout the record are warm, respectful (audience to musicians, musicians to each other), humorous, poignant; you can feel a connection between the players and the listeners. Presenting this duo in a private Missouri home allowed Williams ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Mark Kleinhaut Trio with Bobby Watson: A Balance of Light

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Mark Kleinhaut's previous trio recording, Chasing Tales (Invisible Music, 2002), employed trumpeter Tiger Okoshi to great effect. The guitarist follows it up with alto saxophonist Bobby Watson on A Balance of Light. Kleinhaut's taut trio serves as a perfect foil to the sleek Watson as the group navigates eight of Kleinhaut's original compositions.

The disc opens with the Spanish-tinged “Ferdinand and Isabelle, providing a perfect vehicle for Watson's Latin inclinations. The style may best be termed upbeat neo-bop. Both Watson and Kleinhaut tear up the solo terrain with vigorous workouts. “Long Look Back is a thoughtful ballad where ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Bobby Watson & Horizon: Horizon Reassembled

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Saxophonist Bobby Watson believes, like his former boss Art Blakey did, that making people feel good is “one of the vital functions of jazz. Horizon always made music that was extremely exciting, which made its demise after five major label releases (now all out of print) doubly disappointing. Horizon Reassembled picks up where the band left off more than ten years ago, with the same personnel, which has now achieved all-star status. Trumpeter Terrell Stafford, pianist Edward Simon, bassist Essiet Essiet, and drummer Victor Lewis rejoin Watson and create the same cohesive sound as when they were a regular working ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Bobby Watson & Horizon: Horizon Reassembled

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Bobby Watson & Horizon Horizon Reassembled Palmetto Records 2004

To properly appreciate this CD, according to its leader, you need to listen to it five times.

No problem.

Horizon Reassembled finds alto saxophonist Bobby Watson reuniting with his hard-bop Horizon quintet from the early 1990s. Fans of the “happy band" no doubt will wonder if this stands up to their previous work since members have, as Watson puts it, “evolved into an all-star ensemble." I have no idea, but intend to find out.

Watson's been ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Bobby Watson & Horizon: Horizon Reassembled

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With this reunion, Horizon weaves a cohesive web of sultry serenades that call out softly. Rhythmically adventurous and harmonically complex, they wrap their performance in comfortable tones and pleasant melodies. Front liners Bobby Watson and Terrell Stafford keep the session amiable, as they waft delicate solos fore and aft with fluid motion. Like a ship at sea, the band forms a cohesive unit that sways together with natural affinity.

An underlying love of the blues pervades. As Watson purrs softly on “The Love We Had Yesterday,” you can feel the emotion. This one comes straight from the ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Bobby Watson and Horizon: Horizon Reassembled

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Bobby Watson is not a new name to the scene. With a résumé that includes tenure with Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers in the early ‘80s, as well as various ensembles led by Wynton Marsalis, his robust alto sound has been well represented on over a hundred albums as a guest and nearly twenty-five recordings as a leader. But it is arguably with his mid-‘90s group, Horizon, where he made his most compelling statement. Ten years after the last recording with the group, Watson has reconvened all original members for Horizon Reassembled , which proves that when you have a winning ...

MUSINGS IN CB

Bobby Watson's Kansas City Big Band: Part 2-2

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By Chris Burnett

The focus of this particular musing is an interview with Bobby Watson about his motivation to serve as the director of “The 18th and Vine Big Band", a new big band in Kansas City. This is the second part of a 2-Part feature article where Part 1 introduces readers to Bobby Watson, his music and teaching activities, by way of his biographical narrative. This segment is primarily our discussion about the band and their debut performance at the historic Gem Theatre. THE TRADITION Kansas City already has a ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Mark Kleinhaut Trio with Bobby Watson: A Balance of Light

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One of the most eloquent voices on the alto sax returns, and it is no small measure that Mark Kleinhaut was responsible for bringing Bobby Watson back on record. Kleinhaut wanted to write songs particularly for Watson, and again to his credit, he realized that any music would be the starting point for their dialogue. How right he was! Watson slips right in and, in consonance with the others, turns in a stimulating outing.

It matters little what style the music is. In the diversity of the compositions lies the thread for the musicians to pick and come ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Mark Kleinhaut Trio with Bobby Watson: A Balance of Light

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Guitarist/Composer Mark Kleinhaut could make a career of this: getting together with different horn men and backing them with his trio for yearly CD releases. Last year it was trumpeter Tiger Okkoshi on Chasing Tales. This time out Klienhaut has enlisted alto saxophonist Bobby Watson, the #1 alto saxophonist in Downbeat Magazine's Critics' Poll, 1989-92; an Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers/George Coleman Octet alum; and leader of his own groups that have launched the careers of the likes of Christian McBride, Terrell Stafford and Robin Eubanks.The disc opens with “Ferdinand and Isabelle," an upbeat Latin vibe that ...

MUSINGS IN CB

Bobby Watson's Kansas City Big Band: Part 1-2

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By Chris Burnett

The subject of this particular musing is the extraordinary musician, Bobby Watson. He is indeed one among the premiere American musicians and jazz educators today. His return to the Kansas City area to teach the Jazz Studies Program at the University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory of Music also emphasizes Professor Watson's noble commitment to share his vast knowledge and experience with future generations of jazz musicians. Yes, Bobby Watson has formed a Big Band from among the best musicians in Kansas City. The significance is relevant in several ways. First, as a gifted composer ...



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