"(Alive) contains all the virtues we've come to associate with Watts: fertile harmonic imagination, a beautiful Trane-Soaked-In-Wine tone, the blowtorch cry, rippling cadenzas and the ability to swing at any tempo." Kirk Silsbee / LA CityBeat Dec. 1, 2005
Ernie Watts Quartet ALIVE provides Watts with a new forum for recording. Throughout his long and fruitful career, he has not previously made a live recording of his own, capturing a stage performance with no editing or overdubs. The chance to hear Watts at immediate heat in the midst of his own music is a special occasion, only available before to his concert audiences. Recording in Germany, he leads his quartet (which features acclaimed pianist Christof Saenger) through originals and some well-chosen classics by Thelonious Monk and Charles Mingus. The musicians stretch their imaginations and soar over a set of airtight arrangements. Released on Watts' own Flying Dolphin label, ALIVE begins a new chapter for the artist. "This is my first recording where I had complete control," notes Watts, "All the creative decisions were mine, from the tunes to the final mix. That freedom produced this CD. It shows who I really am as a musician."
"Ernie's newest release, Ernie Watts Quartet 'Alive' (2004), expresses his artistry as a tenor saxophonist extraordinaire. This CD is a 'must buy' for beboppers and mainstreamers. Let's keep swinging with this tenor man, who has raised the standards of the music by staying true to himself and his roots."
Jay Edwards is an on-air announcer at WCLK-FM
Clark Atlanta University
According to People Magazine, "...the celebrated young lions of jazz may have daunting power and speed, but few of them have what tenor saxophonist Watts has honed to perfection; phrasing as natural as falling water and a sound that is at once steeped in tradition and wholly unique." Two-time Grammy Award winner Ernie Watts is one of the most versatile sax players on the music scene today. In a diverse career that has spanned some 30 years, he has been featured on over 500 recordings by artists ranging from Thelonious Monk to Frank Zappa. Although he is quick to point out the inspiration of John Coltrane, Watts has always had his own trademark sound.
Watts first picked up the saxophone at age 13 and eventually won a scholarship to the Wilmington Music School in Delaware, where he studied classical music. He went on to win a Downbeat Scholarship to the Berklee College Of Music. Watts departed Berklee for an important stint with Buddy Rich's big band (1966-1968) before moving to Los Angeles. Once situated in southern California, Watts worked in the big bands of Oliver Nelson and Gerald Wilson and soon became a first call session player. After years in the studios, Watts now chooses a different path for his creativity. With 17 solo recordings to his credit, he tours regularly with The Ernie Watts Quartet and continues his creative collaborations with a select group of fellow artists such as Charlie Haden, Les McCann and Lee Ritenour.