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Bobby Watson: Live and Learn

C. Michael Bailey By

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The finest alto saxophonist alive??

Alto saxophonist Bobby Watson scored an appointment as The William and Mary Grant/Missouri Professor of Jazz endowed chair at the University of Missouri, Kansas City Conservatory of Music. He released a recording on City Light Records ( Old Friends—New Point ) and now he debuts on Palmetto with a new quintet on Live and Learn. Mr. Watson, one of the most underrated players in jazz, has been busy. After a nice run with the Italian RED Records, producing several fine recordings ( Quiet As It is Kept , Live At the Someday Club , Round Trip and This Little Light .), Watson has now brought his talents back to the States and produced a thoroughly enjoyable Contemporary Jazz, Neo-Hard Bop disc.

Live and Learn is largely a collection of original compositions by Watson, and includes a funky original by his wife, Pam Watson. "Stanky P" is a super opener to what proves to be a very integrated yet diverse disc. The saxophonist goes on to mix things up with different song foci and band formats. These facets are demonstrated in the straight funk-bop of "Stanky P," (with full band and solos all around) the balladeering of "Postlude," (a duet with guitarist Gregg Skaff and the gospel cry of "Thank You" (a Coltranesque trio with bassist Lundy and drummer Coleman) and "River Jordan." The title cut has a Motown soulful feeling to it with a call and response between Watson and Skaff. Watson reverently covers Sammy Davis's "I've Gotta Be Me" is a hearty fashion, closing out a welcome return of Bobby Watson as a leader.

This disc is well worth seeking out and adding to one's Watson collection.

Track Listing: Stanky P; Faith In Action; We Fall Down; Thank You; Why Not; Live & Learn; River Jordan; Postlude; Landmarks Lost; I've Gotta Be Me. (Total Time: 52.34).

Personnel: Bobby Watson-- Alto and Soprano Saxophones; Orrin Evans-- Piano; Curtis Lundy: Bass; Gregg Skaff-- Guitar; Montez Coleman-- Drums.

Title: Live and Learn | Year Released: 2002 | Record Label: Palmetto Records

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