If you were expecting "Way Down upon the Swanee River," forget it. Like his first two albums with brother Harry, trumpeter Ken Watters has put together a session of post-bop material that reflects his New York City dues-payin' background.
Watters is from Alabama. This same quartet appeared on last year's Brothers II (Summit), with trombonist Harry Watters. A cohesive unit, this is Ken Watters' working group. They interpret each piece with an in-depth understanding. Watters, who plays flugelhorn on half the session, exhibits a warm lyrical approach with the kind of seamless power needed to adequately support his views. The ideas flow. Joel Frahm joins the quartet for three songs. His presence on Watters' "Pathfinder" creates a moving experience. A creative piece, chock full of impressionist scenery, the closing number summarizes the group's modern approach. With one foot in tradition and the other on the leading edge, the album's compositions & arrangements show dramatic evidence that jazz wants to grow. Watters' "April Third," with Frahm on tenor, revolves around its built-in tension to move the modern mainstream right and left. Even "Stella by Starlight" gets a facelift. James Taylor's loose-fitting "Fire & Rain" showcases drummer Jay Frederick's personal zeal. Here and throughout the session, his unique, straight-ahead touch leaves nothing to chance. A variety of textures and a willingness to go toe-to-toe with the front line make Frederick's contribution impressive. Representing the modern mainstream and its creative mixture of ideas, the Ken Watters Group makes a solid outing with Southern Exposure.
Personnel: Ken Watters- trumpet, flugelhorn; David Marlow- piano; Roy Yarborough- acoustic bass; Jay Frederick- drums; Joel Frahm- soprano saxophone, tenor saxophone.