Bobby Watson

Bobby Watson's Biography

A GRAMMY®-nominated saxophonist, composer, producer and educator, Bobby Watson trained formally at the University of Miami and then earned his doctorate as musical director of Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, the ultimate postgraduate school for ambitious young players. Along the way, he worked with notable jazz artists Max Roach, Louis Hayes, George Coleman, Sam Rivers and Branford and Wynton Marsalis as well as vocalists Joe Williams, Dianne Reeves, Lou Rawls, Betty Carter and Carmen Lundy.

Later, in association with bassist Curtis Lundy and drummer Victor Lewis, Watson launched the first edition of Horizon, the highly acclaimed acoustic quintet. He has also led the High Court of Swing (a tribute to the music of Johnny Hodges), The Tailor-Made Big Band and is a founding member of the highly acclaimed 29th Street Saxophone Quartet. Watson also wrote original music for the sound track of Robert DeNiro's directorial debut, A Bronx Tale. To date, Watson has recorded over 26 records as a leader and appears on more than 80 additional recordings.

More than 100 of his compositions have been recorded. Additionally, Second Floor Music, his long-time publisher, makes his original combo and big band arrangements available for other performers and educators. After a string of recordings for the Palmetto label, Watson released a pair of self-produced titles. The Gates BBQ Suite celebrates his hometown's most famous food and the one-time family business, and serves as a vehicle for the University of Missouri-Kansas City jazz students, who participate in the school's Watson-directed program. Watson's most recent release, Check Cashing Day, celebrates the Civil Rights Movement in general and more specifically, the 50th Anniversary of Martin Luther King's famed I Have A Dream speech. In 2000, at UMKC's administration invitation, Watson returned to Kansas City where he was awarded the position of first William and Mary Grant Missouri Professor of Jazz as an endowed chair. The position encompasses Watson's directorship of the conservatory's aforementioned Jazz Studies Program.

Of late, Watson has received a number of well-deserved awards recognizing his musical contributions during what is now a four-decade career. In 2011, Watson was inducted into the Kansas Music Hall of Fame. In 2013, he received the prestigious Benny Golson Jazz Masters Award from Howard University in Washington, D.C. Simultaneously, Rep. John Conyers honored Watson by officially recognizing his work in the Congressional Record. A recent acknowledgment of his commitment to the field is perhaps the sweetest yet. On August 23, 2014, coincidentally his 61st birthday, Watson was selected to be among the first inductees into the newly established 18th and Vine "Jazz Walk of Fame." He joined Pat Metheny as the only other living selection along with four of the city's jazz icons: Count Basie, Jay McShann, Charlie Parker and Mary Lou Williams.

Bobby Watson's Gear
Bobby Watson