“Ernie Watts is well known in the jazz world as one of the most powerful of tenormen with complete control over his horn and the ability to bring intensity, passion and taste to any musical situation,” says music journalist Scott Yanow. He is an intense and masterful jazz improviser who has developed his own “sheets of sound” approach along with a warm, instantly recognizable tone.
Quick to acknowledge his foremost influence, Watts recounts, “when I first heard John Coltrane play, it was like someone put my hand into a light socket.” He started to learn jazz by ear, often falling asleep at night listening to a stack of Coltrane records. Unity includes Coltrane’s “Grand Central” and material by respected jazz composers Dave Brubeck, Mal Waldron, and Oscar Pettiford.
Touring regularly with his own group and with Charlie Haden’s Quartet West, Watts gathers fans and accolades from the jazz community every time he steps on stage. Unity finds Watts among his favorite players; Jack DeJohnette (drums), Geri Allen (piano), with bass duties shared by Eddie Gomez and Steve Swallow. Describing Watts’ sound in the liner notes, Amiri Baraka writes, “It is a prepossessing broad deep heavy tenor, yet altoish – dig – it did put me in mind sometimes of Ernie Henry or Jackie Mc – that penetration of the notes, like ready or not, they are trying to blow through you.” First released in 1996, Unity is now available from the artist’s own label Flying Dolphin Records in its original audiophile XRCD (extended resolution) format with deluxe packaging.