While the talented Watters brothers are the motivating force behind this generally admirable new release from Arizona–based Summit Records, it is the enterprising rhythm section that almost steals the show, with pianist Werner a particular standout on track after track. Not that the brothers don’t declaim with authority; they do — especially on their respective features (trombonist Harry on “Getting Sentimental” and “Trinidad,” trumpeter Ken on “Sentimental Mood”). But their voices are somewhat dampened by the recording mix, whose excessive reverb makes the horns sound relatively distant and detached. Werner, meanwhile, shapes a series of well–designed solos and comps with typical modesty and awareness. Colley’s booming bass provides an unerring compass, and Neumann ably directs traffic without trespassing on anyone’s space. As for the brothers, Harry straddles the fence between modern and traditional (as befits a former member and leader of the Dukes of Dixieland), awakening memories of Tommy Dorsey on “Getting Sentimental,” while Ken observes the music through an unbending contemporary lens modeled after his favorite trumpeters, Tim Hagans and the late Woody Shaw. The brothers complement one another well, so much so that one might assume they’d been together all their lives. Actually, Ken and Harry parted company after studying at North Texas State (now the University of North Texas), and this is the first time they’ve teamed up on record. They should do so more often. Ken wrote three perky songs for the occasion (“The Girls Back Home,“ “Diversion,” “Close to the Vest”) and Harry contributed the amiable ballad “Trinidad.” The seven standards are enlivened by shifting time signatures and such refreshing touches as the New Orleans–flavored treatment of “What Is This Thing Called Love.” While neither Ken nor Harry is — or claims to be — an original voice on his horn, they are seasoned players who’ve fashioned an engaging family reunion that is worth attending.
Track listing: The Girls Back Home; I’m Getting Sentimental Over You; Autumn Leaves; Diversion; Moonlight in Vermont; What Is This Thing Called Love; Close to the Vest; Trinidad; Body and Soul; In a Sentimental Mood; Over the Rainbow; The Girls Back Home (radio edit) (72:55).
Ken Watters, trumpet; Harry Watters, trombone; Kenny Werner, piano; Scott Colley, acoustic bass; Scott Neumann, drums.
Contact: Summit Records, Box 26850, Tempe, AZ 85285 (www.summitrecords.com).