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Ken & Harry Watters: Brothers

Glenn Astarita By

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“Brothers”: Ken and Harry Watters is a fine new release by these Huntsville, Alabama natives. Ken, a post-bop Trumpet maestro has appeared on 25 CDs and has performed with the likes of: Sinatra, Herbie Mann, Terry Gibbs, Mike Stern and even the pop group “The Fifth Dimension”. Harry Watters served as graduate assistant under Ellis Marsalis at the University of New Orleans and besides stints with the US Army Blues Jazz Ensemble also spent four years performing with those venerable “Dukes of Dixieland”. Slightly diverse and contrasting careers come to fruition here on this splendid and extremely gratifying recording. As mainstream jazz continues to plot its course, the Brothers Ken and Harry Watters have rekindled spirits of years gone by with remarkable grace and craftsmanship.

Ken Watter’s “The Girls Back Home” is a sentimental yet up-lifting piece featuring an especially charming melody line. “The Girls Back Home” sparks vivid imagery of perhaps being on the road for too long or fighting the enemy overseas. This piece could easily serve as an opening theme for a TV mini-series or Big Screen film production. Hopefully, Jazz radio will come to its senses and give this track some air-time ......The classic “I’m Getting Sentimental Over You” features lush, romantic Trombone work from Harry Watters who also utilizes extended notes and vibrato to full effect. The wonderful Kenny Werner was the perfect choice for the Piano chair. Werner brings elegance and flawless expertise to the table. Werner and Harry Watters take us to a ballroom in a fancy hotel somewhere as the evocative lucid imagery suggests fantasy and enchantment. The brothers step up the pace with a swinging and driving version of “Autumn Leaves”. Harry’s warm tone yet amazingly fast chops provoke Ken’s seasoned big band “sharpshooter” style Trumpet bravado. Ken Watters is an exceptionally fine technician who reminds this writer of the great Marvin Stamm. Ken Watter’s composition “Diversion” is yet another upbeat and appealing tune that features the brothers engaging in majestic choruses that are polished by design yet at times, sound loose and care free. “Diversion” features a pleasing and memorable hook that represents yet another candidate for a Film soundtrack. It has that “right stuff” (These guys may be onto something here!) “Moonlight in Vermont” swings as Harry and Ken display brilliant execution with swift verses and captivating motifs. Ken plays his muted Trumpet with a vengeance and again displays total command of his instrument. Werner, Bassist Scott Colley and Drummer Scott Neuman provide superb yet sympathetic support here and throughout the entire affair. On “Moonlight in Vermont” Werner takes a heated Piano solo while Colley “ runs” as opposed to walking the Bass line. The Brothers give the classic “Body and Soul” a medium-tempo lift and perform soulful versions of Harold Arlen’s “Over The Rainbow” and Ellington’s “In A Sentimental Mood”.

Brothers: Ken and Harry Watters are a class act. Superb musicianship, sparkling treatments of Twentieth Century classics and exceptional original compositions mark this outing as an early top 10 contender. These pieces are fresh, contemporary sounding and aurally stimulating. A truly fine if not surprising effort from two guys who have probably made decent livings supporting name acts. Highly Recommended.


Track Listing: The Girls Back Home; I

Personnel: Ken Watters- trumpet; Harry Watters- trombone; Kenny Werner- piano; Scott Colley- acoustic bass; Scott Neumann- drums.

Title: Brothers | Year Released: 1999


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