402

Ernie Watts Quartet: Analog Man

Ian Patterson By

Sign in to view read count
Ernie Watts Quartet: Analog Man The opening two-note piano riff, the crisp rim shots from the drums and the walking bass line on the opening number and title track get Analog Man off to the most swinging of starts. Saxophonist Ernie Watts introduces the melody and proceeds to craft a solo so full of invention, strength and lyricism that when he lays out to allow pianist Christof Saenger his turn the surprise is that only three minutes have passed.

Watts' playing on "Analog Man is fluid and elegant and he raises the bar high for the musicians in his quartet. First pianist Saenger and then bassist Rudi Engel prove that they are up to the challenge of playing with one of jazz's premier saxophonists.

"Elements opens with drummer Heinrich Koebberling and Watts engaging in a highly charged duet, or rather duel, as the two seem to stoke each other's fire, recalling saxophonist John Coltrane and drummer Rashied Ali's sparring of forty years ago. Saenger maintains the tempo with a brief but lightning solo before the tune turns a corner and emerges into a short free-form, quasi-psychedelic passage with bowed bass, bird-like squawks from the saxophone and splashes of high register piano. Watts then steers the quartet into slightly more conventional territory but the tension never dips on the album's most ambitious track.

Saenger's beautiful "Paseando sees Watts switch to soprano , and his gently soaring, snaking solo evokes the magic of Wayne Shorter, one of his primary influences. Saenger responds with a solo full of blues, space and teasing runs.

There are three non-originals on Analog Man: French bassist Francois Moutin's "Clinton Parkview, Victor Feldman's classic "Joshua and, sandwiched between the two, Rickie Lee Jones' tender ballad, "Company. On "Joshua Watts plays some of his most inspired lines, a breathless, exciting and full-blooded tenor assault which sets the tone for his excellent quartet to follow.

It is the Watts originals, however, which stand out. "A Lilac Grows shows that the saxophonist can pen a ballad as well as anybody, and the soulful, uplifting melody and elegant playing again recall Blue Note-era Shorter. The quartet turns to the blues on "Gee Baby, which bounces and shuffles along propelled by Engel's bass line. Watts serves up a typically robust, colorful solo before drums and piano enter and swing the tune all the way home. "Morning Prayer succeeds in capturing the essence of the sacred, that indefinable beauty particular to so much devotional music; Patricia Watts on Burmese temple bells sets off her husband's heartfelt unaccompanied improvisations.

Analog Man is Watts' third quartet album on his own Flying Dolphin Records label and perhaps his strongest to date. Watts' writing and playing is better than ever. At least two tracks, the title track and "A Lilac Grows bear the hallmarks of instant classics, compositions which will inspire current and future generations of musicians, and there can surely be no higher compliment than that.


Track Listing: Analog Man; Elements; Paseando; Clinton Parkview; Company; Joshua; A Lilac Grows; Gee Baby; Morning Prayer.

Personnel: Ernie Watts: saxophones; Christof Saenger: piano; Rudi Engel: bass; Heinrich Koebberling: drums; Patricia Watts: Burmese temple bells (9).

Year Released: 2007 | Record Label: Flying Dolphin Records


Shop

More Articles

Read Fellowship CD/LP/Track Review Fellowship
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 22, 2017
Read E.S.T. Symphony CD/LP/Track Review E.S.T. Symphony
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 22, 2017
Read June CD/LP/Track Review June
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 22, 2017
Read The Invariant CD/LP/Track Review The Invariant
by Mark Sullivan
Published: February 22, 2017
Read Akua's Dance CD/LP/Track Review Akua's Dance
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 21, 2017
Read Daylight Ghosts CD/LP/Track Review Daylight Ghosts
by Mark Sullivan
Published: February 21, 2017
Read "Diachronic Paths" CD/LP/Track Review Diachronic Paths
by Mark Corroto
Published: April 15, 2016
Read "Something About Jobim" CD/LP/Track Review Something About Jobim
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: March 16, 2016
Read "Out & About" CD/LP/Track Review Out & About
by Doug Collette
Published: July 3, 2016
Read "Live At The Open Gate" CD/LP/Track Review Live At The Open Gate
by John Sharpe
Published: August 29, 2016
Read "Kronix" CD/LP/Track Review Kronix
by Glenn Astarita
Published: March 27, 2016
Read "Wede Harer Guzo" CD/LP/Track Review Wede Harer Guzo
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: May 28, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!