JVC (c) 1998
If Watts' tenure at JVC, beginning with the 1994 release, Reaching Up, has signified anything, it's that Watts is a jazz musician of the first order. Continuing with Unity (1995) and The Long Road Home (1996), Watts has demonstrated a mastery of the tenor sax in the company of world class players. The JVC recordings showed the world what Southern California knew: After the day's studio work was done, Watts could often be heard playing hell-bent jazz at late night clubs.
The album at hand is maybe the most personal recorded statement that Ernie
Watts has made to date. "These are all songs that I grew up listening to,"
Watts notes. "But as much as I've listened to them, I've never really
gotten to play them much. Most of my playing time in the various bands I've
been in -- Buddy Rich, Oliver Nelson, Gerald Wilson, with Doc Severinsen --
was spent playing original material. I never really got a chance to explore
a lot of this classic jazz repertoire. I've always wanted to play these compositions."
A glance at the material Watts has selected will indicate his musical loyalties.
Pieces associated with Miles Davis, John Coltrane and Billie Holiday. "Growing
up listening to these tunes is a part of my fiber. It became my subconscious
imprint. My conception of these songs is what John Coltrane played on LUSH
LIFE or the way Miles played ON GREEN DOLPHIN STREET. I didn't hear the words
until much later."
Liner notes by Kirk Silsbee