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Bobby Watson is a great alto saxophonist, but his latest album is nothing to write home about. The first few tunes, with their light latin grooves and trite melodies, border on schlocky. Bassist Curtis Lundy and drummer Ralph Peterson provide a hipness factor that somewhat diminishes the easy listening vibe. But Greg Skaff’s acoustic guitar and Marlon Simon’s percussion, although expert, overpower the hipness with a steady dose of saccharine. Ralph Peterson’s own "Just For Today," a slow waltz reminiscent of Wayne Shorter’s "Iris," is the album’s first ray of light. "Interlude (To Be Continued)," also penned by Peterson, ends the record on an enigmatic and engaging note.
The record seems to pick up about halfway through. "Watch the Children Play" offers a textural shift by featuring Watson’s sax, Lundy’s bass, and Lenny Argese’s guitar while drums and piano lay out. The title track, "Quiet As It’s Kept," is a good, swinging tune that features Terell Stafford on muted trumpet. Stafford also guests on the Tyner-esque "Nubian Breakdown" and the album’s best cut, "Nanatsu-No-Ko," a ballad based on a traditional Japanese folk song. Watson shines on soprano, and pianist Orrin Evans plays his best solo of the date. Pamela Watson, the leader’s wife, wrote "Concentric Circles," an intriguing piece that explores the fluid boundary between 6/8 and 3/4 time.
Quiet As It’s Kept does have its moments, but I don’t hear much of lasting value. Watson can do better, and has done better.
Track Listing: Looking Into Your Eyes; Always a Friend; Afternoon in Ottobrun; Just Bobby Watson: Alto and Soprano Saxophones, Terell Stafford: Trumpet; Orrin Evans: Piano; Lenny Argese: Guitar; Curtis Lundy: Bass; Ralph Peterson: Drums; Marlon Simon: Percussion; Pamela Watson: Vocals.
Personnel: Bobby Watson: alto and soprano saxophones, Terell Stafford: trumpet; Orrin Evans: piano; Lenny Argese: guitar; Curtis Lundy: bass; Ralph Peterson: drums; Marlon Simon: percussion; Pamela Watson: vocals.