Shaping a new horizon
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 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 were frequently referred to as the “University of Blakey” and served as the ultimate “postgraduate school” for ambitious young players. Afterward, Watson worked with notable artists such as drummers Max Roach and Louis Hayes, fellow saxophonists George Coleman and Branford Marsalis, celebrated multi-instrumentalist Sam Rivers and trumpeter Wynton Marsalis. He later launched Horizon, now considered as one of the preeminent small groups of the mid-1980s to mid-1990s and even into the 2000s. The group recorded several highly acclaimed titles for the Blue Note and Columbia record labels including Post-Motown Bop and Midwest Shuffle, Live!
In addition to his work with Horizon, Watson also led a nine-piece group known as the “High Court of Swing” – a tribute to the music of Johnny Hodges – as well as the Grammy-nominated 16-piece, large ensemble “Tailor Made Big Band.” The lyrical stylist is also a founding member of the well-respected 29th Street Saxophone Quartet, an all-horn, four-piece ensemble.
To learn more about Bobby Watson, visit bobbywatson.com