Take Five With Ken Watters

AAJ Staff By

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Meet Ken Watters:

Atlanta-based trumpeter Ken Watters has performed, toured, or recorded with Frank Sinatra, Marc Anthony, Natalie Cole, Mingus Big Band, Kelis, Gregg Allman, Bonnie Bramlett, Chris Potter, Harry Connick, Jr., Reuben Studdard, Eartha Kitt, The Fifth Dimension, Angela & Zack Hacker, Petula Clarke, Tabou Combo, Steel Pulse, Marilyn McCoo, Phyllis Diller, Dave Holland, The Muscle Shoals Horns, and is house trumpeter for high-profile R&B producer Dallas Austin, among many other credits.

Ken is a SESAC-affiliated jazz composer, Jupiter Artist / Clinician & Summit Records Artist (with four internationally-released CDs to date on the label, all of which spent significant time in the top 50 on the US jazz charts.

His latest project is a Haitian/Caribbean jazz group called RIYEL, whose debut CD will be released worldwide in early September 2009.


Trumpet, flugelhorn.

What is your greatest fear? Not being able to make music (for any reason)...

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? Never seeming to achieve my personal musical and/or artistic potential.

What is the trait you most deplore in others? Unprofessionalism & apathy.

What is your most treasured possession? My two trumpets—my Jupiter 1604XO (ideal for horn section/studio use) & my Spada BJ1 (wonderfully warm & dark jazz horn).

Who would play you in the film of your life? A heckler in the audience.

What is your most unappealing habit? Not always living up to my personal goals...

Which person would you most like to meet, and why? Clifford Brown, because of the untainted beauty of his innermost personality (I'm guessing, anyway). I have read accounts of what kind of person he was, but his music is truly what tells the story of who he was.

Which living person do you most admire, and why? Barack Obama—quite possibly our most brilliant, thoughtful, honest (to the point of causing some Americans' disapproval, in fact) & strong president to date.

If you could go back in time, where would you go? 52nd Street, NYC—probably to roughly the years 1951-1952...

Which words or phrases do you most overuse? "killin," "cats" & many, many more that I will not submit...

Aside from a property, what is the most expensive thing you have ever bought? My Spada BJ1 trumpet.

Where would you like to live? Exactly where I live currently. As time goes on, I realize more & more that happiness must come from within—I can be & am happy most anywhere.

What do you most dislike about your appearance? Probably a somewhat common answer, but I simply do not consider myself to be an attractive (in any kind of classic sense)... Nothing specific—more of a general opinion of myself.

It is not a big enough deal to knock me off course, however...

What is your favorite smell? Certain brands of pipe tobacco...

What is your favorite book? To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.

To whom would you most like to say sorry, and why? Everyone that I hurt, was not attentive enough to, or was generally not myself around (in a negative way) while I was actively drinking and/or using over a decade ago...

Have you ever said "I love you" and not meant it? Oh, yeah...

When did you last cry, and why? When the Obama Family walked onstage for Barack's victory speech... What a historical moment...

Before that, September 11, 2001—The entire world was deeply hurt, but particularly everyone who has ever lived in NYC felt a very personal pain that day...

What single thing would improve the quality of your life?

A successful, long-lasting and artistically satisfying run with my new band, RIYEL.

What keeps you awake at night? Fear. All sorts of fear, in fact... Everything from the bigger fears, such as family tragedies, etc to smaller, less significant issues such as unfinished business...

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