All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...


Heath Watts: Bright Yellow with Bass

John Sharpe By

Sign in to view read count
Musicians gravitate towards the sprawling conurbations like New York and Chicago because of the potential for exposure, the pool of talented collaborators and the sheer pull of tradition. But if ever proof were needed that excellent music thrives outside of the these febrile centers, then it can be found on Bright Yellow With Bass. Soprano saxophonist Heath Watts now resides in Philadelphia, and his last issued record dates back to Breathe If You Can (Leo, 2008), so clearly he doesn't put himself forward unless he has something to say. And he has lots to say on the ten off-the-map navigations from this 2013 session recorded in Montana with Butte-based bassist Blue Armstrong.

Drawn to the extremes, Watts proves a wonderfully original voice on his reed of choice. While he evokes the great Steve Lacy in the bounce of his lines when he sticks to conventional tonality, that's only the starting point on a journey that takes in all manner of liquid bubbling, cat-like mewling, false fingered bleats and multiphonic whistles. You can almost hear him straining to come up with something fresh on each cut. In fact as he recounts in an interview on fellow straight horn specialist Sam Newsome's blog, he actually achieved it by creating a series of very low pitches on "Non-Standard Issue" which he has never managed either before or since.

Armstrong supplies a marvelously supple foil, his elastic pizzicato furnishing a grounding presence to Watts' excursions. While he remains recognizably a rhythm player, he is nonetheless empathetic and probing when required, supplying freely extemporized counterpoint and mixing it up with audacious arco. His leaps between bowing and plucking are unexpected and inspire Watts to move into other areas. One such serendipitous switch occurs after flirting with consonance in "Assists" when Armstrong's shift to scribbling sawing prompts a similarly swift response of burbling soprano, presaging some electrifying blending of bowed harmonics and split tone cries.

But in spite of the unpolished experimentation, the duets stay thoroughly musical, begging the question of when the next installment might be due.

Track Listing: Adhocery; The Other and the Same; Assits; From One Extreme to Unspecified; Every Other One Is Every Bit Other; On the Outside from Within; Moment of Asking; Inverted Commas; Non- Standard Issue; Doubly Singular.

Personnel: Heath Watts: soprano saxophone; Blue Armstrong: double bass.

Title: Bright Yellow with Bass | Year Released: 2017 | Record Label: Leo Records


comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read Lab 2018, The Rhythm of the Road CD/LP/Track Review
Lab 2018, The Rhythm of the Road
by Jack Bowers
Published: September 25, 2018
Read Live CD/LP/Track Review
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: September 25, 2018
Read 8 Songs CD/LP/Track Review
8 Songs
by Roger Farbey
Published: September 25, 2018
Read Facing Dragons CD/LP/Track Review
Facing Dragons
by Chris Mosey
Published: September 25, 2018
Read Brothers CD/LP/Track Review
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: September 24, 2018
Read The Fearless Flyers CD/LP/Track Review
The Fearless Flyers
by John Bricker
Published: September 24, 2018
Read "Life Stories" CD/LP/Track Review Life Stories
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: April 8, 2018
Read "Duets" CD/LP/Track Review Duets
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: October 17, 2017
Read "Walk The Walk" CD/LP/Track Review Walk The Walk
by Mark Sullivan
Published: May 21, 2018
Read "Months, Weeks and Days" CD/LP/Track Review Months, Weeks and Days
by Glenn Astarita
Published: May 21, 2018
Read "The Planets" CD/LP/Track Review The Planets
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: April 6, 2018
Read "Welcome To This World" CD/LP/Track Review Welcome To This World
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: July 10, 2018