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Bobby Watson


A saxophonist, composer, arranger and educator, Bobby Watson grew up in Kansas City, Kan. He trained formally at the University of Miami, a school with a distinguished and well-respected jazz program. After graduating, he proceeded to earn his "doctorate" – on the bandstand – as musical director of Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers. The group, created in 1955 by late legendary drummer who died in 1990, showcased a rotating cast of players, many who, like Watson, would go on to have substantial careers as bandleaders in their own right. The Jazz Messengers – frequently referred to as the "University of Blakey" – served as the ultimate "postgraduate school" for ambitious young players. After completing a four-year-plus Jazz Messengers tenure (1977-1981) that incorporated more than a dozen recordings – the most of any of the great Jazz Messengers, the gifted Watson became a much-sought after musician, working along the way with a potpourri of notable artists – peers, elder statesmen and colleagues all — including, but not limited to: drummers Max Roach and Louis Hayes, fellow saxophonists George Coleman and a younger Branford Marsalis, celebrated multi-instrumentalist Sam Rivers and trumpeter Wynton Marsalis (who joined the Jazz Messengers at least in part at the suggestion of Watson)


Article: Live Review

Jazz Aspen Snowmass June Experience 2024

Read "Jazz Aspen Snowmass June Experience 2024" reviewed by Geoff Anderson

Jazz Aspen Snowmass June Experience 2024 Aspen, Colorado June 20-22, 2024 The Jazz Aspen Snowmass June Experience returned this year with 20 acts performing over the course of three nights in various venues around downtown Aspen. JAS has been sponsoring two festivals (or “Experiences") each of the last several years. The June ...

Article: Live Review

Bergamo Jazz Festival 2024

Read "Bergamo Jazz Festival 2024" reviewed by Vincenzo Roggero

Bergamo Jazz Festival Bergamo Varie sedi 21-24.3.2024 La quarantacinquesima edizione di Bergamo Jazz coincide con il passaggio di testimone nella direzione artistica da Maria Pia De Vito allo statunitense Joe Lovano, più volte ospite come musicista della rassegna orobica. La formula è quella consolidata da anni: tre serate con doppio concerto ...


Article: Interview

Meet Bobby Watson

Read "Meet Bobby Watson" reviewed by Craig Jolley

This article was first published at All About Jazz in October 1999. Background and early career... I started playing clarinet and piano in my grandfather's church. I played saxophone in junior high school: originally tenor and switched to alto when I got to high school. From there I got hip to jazz and tried ...


Article: Liner Notes

One For All: Blueslike

Read "One For All: Blueslike" reviewed by C. Andrew Hovan

As the timeworn adage goes, sometimes the best things come from situations where one is asked to function in less than ideal circumstances. When you have little time to analyze things and go with pure instincts, there's an air of veracity and spontaneity to the results that is seldom arrived at by any other means. Although ...


Article: Album Review

The Modern Beat Combo: Soul​-​Jazz Reflections

Read "Soul​-​Jazz Reflections" reviewed by Jerome Wilson

The Modern Beat Combo is a British group with an affinity for American mainstream jazz and jazz fusion, which they demonstrate through the swinging, supple grooves they consistently put out on this album. Their skill at fusion is shown best by their version of Miles Davis' “It's About That Time" where Steve Harding's electric ...


Article: Album Review

Antonello Losacco: Worlds Beyond

Read "Worlds Beyond" reviewed by Neil Duggan

Jazz albums featuring the seven-string electric bass are fairly unusual. Antonello Losacco makes a strong case that this situation should change, by making full use of the wide harmonic and melodic possibilities of the instrument on his album, Worlds Beyond . He was a co-designer of the bass he uses, having undertaken technical research into the ...


Back Home in Kansas City

Label: Smoke Sessions Records
Released: 2023
Track listing: 1. "Back Home in Kansas City" 2. "Red Bank Heist" 3. "Our Love Remains" 4. "Bon Voyage" 5. "The Star is in the East" 6. "Mind Wine" 7. "Celestial" 8. "Dear Lord" 9. "Side Steps" 10. "I'm Glad There is You" 11. "Blues for Alto"


Article: Album Review

Benet McLean: Green Park

Read "Green Park" reviewed by Chris May

Best known as a pianist, with four critically acclaimed albums behind him, on Green Park Benet McLean returns to his first instrument, the violin. The press release says he began studying the instrument at the age of 3, and Wikipedia tells us he was at some stage mentored by classical maestro Yehudi Menuhin. It stacks up. ...


Article: In Pictures

Renewing the Legacy: The Day 2 Musical Odyssey at the Newport Jazz Festival

Read "Renewing the Legacy: The Day 2 Musical Odyssey at the Newport Jazz Festival" reviewed by Dave Kaufman

Day 1 | Day 2 | Part 3 The first day at the Newport showcased a multitude of performers who could be described as “beyond jazz" or “jazz adjacent." Their performances were greeted enthusiastically, and they added a palpable energy and a festive vibe. In the last two days of the festival, the balance ...


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