Bobby Watson is one of the most accomplished saxophonists and educators of the last 40 years, rightfully so, because Bobby was born and raised in one of the most fertile and important areas for jazz in the US, Kansas City. After graduating from the University of Miami in 1975, attending at the same time as Pat Metheny and Jaco Pastorious, he relocated to NY and rapidly became the music director of the prestigious Art Blakely and the Jazz Messengers, a position he held until 1981 when he left to form his own band, Horizon. A dedicated educator Mr. Watson began teaching at William Patterson University before moving over to the Manhattan School of Music and becoming involved with the Thelonious Monk Institute’s “Jazz in America” outreach program for high school music students. In addition to his teaching career, Bobby was still busy touring, doing studio recordings for many of the most renown names of jazz and leading his own bands, besides Horizon he formed the 29th Street Saxophone Quartet, the Tailor-Made Big Band and the Latin jazz ensemble, The Jazz Tribe. In 2000, Bobby decided to return to Kansas City and became the first William D. and Mary Grant/Missouri, Distinguished Professorship in Jazz Studies. Since 2002 he has served as the director of jazz studies at the University of Missouri–Kansas City Conservatory of Music garnering several awards and a multitude of praise for his work with the students there.
After a four-year hiatus from recording as a leader, earlier in 2017 Bobby released his amazing Made in America recording for the splendid Smoke Sessions Records. For his latest album, Watson chose to bring attention to black pioneers in a variety of fields-science to sports, politics to pop culture. Bobby says that his latest project was a history lesson for him that he hopes becomes one for the listeners as well. On Made in America, Bobby teams up with his frequent collaborators, Curtis Lundy-bass, Stephen Scott-piano and drummer Lewis Nash, an all-star quartet. Two of the session’s honorees are musicians, the great guitarist Grant Green and the person whom Bobby calls “the all-time greatest entertainer”, Sammy Davis Jr. Here’s Bobby Watson’s quote about his newest CD; “This is not your typical jazz record, I want to try, in the time I have left, to reflect the things that I‘m learning about history, about America, about the world and the people that came before me, and hopefully connect that with some of our young people and older people, both black and white.”
ADDENDUM: The Bobby Watson All-Star Quartet and the Bobby Watson Kansas City Jump Band will be performing at KUVO’s Signature Event, Saturday, August 12, “Live at the Vineyards”