P>Ken Watters third album for Summit is with his regular working quartet and provides a play list of standards , jazz tunes, including a couple of originals, and rock stuff adapted for a small jazz group. The result is a mixed bag in terms of the effect upon the ear. A quiet introspective "Fire & Rain" makes this song sound better than it should with lovely back and forth between Watters and David Marlow's piano along with Jay Frederick's shuffling drum rhythms holding it all together. If there can be such a thing as a thinking man's rendition of a rock tune, this is what it would probably sound like. More introspection, modern style (but with Bach overtones if Bach ever were to write jazz music) on a ten minute journey into the compositional mind of Ken Watters. This track demands close, careful listening if one is to benefit fully from the interplay between the musicians. One of the loudest of the conversationalists, and most glib, is the probing, argumentative soprano sax of Joel Frahm. It's like is like he was called up, invited to a party and told to come "as you are". But Olé, here comes "Jessica" with an infectious Latin beat to lighten up matters.
Then come the standards. The only part of "Stella by Starlight" used is the title. This oft recorded, and probably one of the most beautiful of all popular tunes, is given an avant-garde, impressionistic rendering...Picasso put to music...with dazzling piano runs by Marlow, melodic drumming by Frederick built around the insistent trumpet of leader Watters. "We'll be Together Again" is accorded much more respectful treatment with an out and out romantic opening by Marlow and Miles Davis like musings by Watters.
Avant-garde, creative modern music is the norm here and this group does it well.
Personnel: Ken Watters - Trumpet/Flugelhorn; David Marlow - Pinao; Roy Yarborough - Bass; Jay Frederick - Drums