(c) Odyssey Records (P) & (C)
OMD * R * 8418 * 2
What was hip in the 1960's -- peace, nature and the growing music scene generated by the beautiful flower people - is still very relevant in today's life. In a world full of tensions, peace would be wonderful; in an era of global warming, nature looks like it could save the day. And music, it's just grown bigger and straddled both sides of the fence that runs ragged between beauty and beastliness.
For all the industry's inherent flaws, the gems that come shining through are worth the long wait. Stand Up, Ernie Watts' first album for an international market, put together outside of the USA, is a statement for the sweet fruit found in patient nurturing.
This is an east-west album that marries the two-time Grammy winner's silky talent with the know-how of musicians and studio crew carefully pieced together out of professionalism and friendship.
Watts' willingness to experiment with foreign structures and to accept contributions and influences not usually found within the realms of his musical lexicon have yielded tracks of diversity and originality.
The resulting melange offers a palette of musical colours with which Watts breathes life and texture into his pieces, hence, the listener will be united through various musical elements: from electric to funk, and pop to ethnic.
Watts' saxophone binds the pieces together: on Olympia, he unleashes athletic salvos: on the raunchy Helvetica, inspired by a walk through old Zurich, he is bright and breezy, and on Desert Nights, the plaintive call of his lonely sax, like a coyote howling at the top of a desert mesa, paints a picture of life in the desert.
With Stand Up (For Peace) the gospel, bluesy inclinations are felt almost at the first note. Watts fires his whole soul into this one and it shows. Vocalization lends a haunting touch; a perfect foil for Watts' sax which commands much of the attention with its intricate runs; dipping and soaring in true gospel tradition.
Watts' pop leanings is apparent on What Do you See?, a ballad with a well-structured melody line built around his dexterous work on the sax, and Another Time, Another Place in which the expressive piano of Jeremy Monteiro gently coaxes Watts' sax to flow into the piece; for the romantics, this could be a tearjerker with its "cinematic" style bringing nostalgic memories flooding back.
One of my favourites on Stand Up is Asia Blue, with soulful sax, gentle guitars and rhythmic percussion bring to mind a misty setting on a green eastern slope. Ethereal, yet tangible in its form, this mood piece is highly evocative and stands out from the rest for the sense of mysticism.
Watts' sax sounds like a snake charmer's horn in parts, but that just lends to the eastern flavor. From the oriental lilt on Asia Blue to the bright and snazzy Helvetica, the tracks on Stand Up are aimed at maximizing one's life experiences. In keeping with this theme, Watts has chosen the path bridging jazz and pop, a move which will win favour with his fans as well as those eager to understand the efforts of a tireless saxmaster.
"The World is getting smaller every minute of everyday. And I believe all people have become connected by a mutual need for planetary stability, which is directly connected to our own personal stability. We have a choice! United we can all thrive and prosper. This is my first record for Odyssey. I am very pleased and proud to have the opportunity to help bring people together through the language of music. I thank my friend Jeremy Monteiro for helping make a life long dream of mine come true - the blending of cultures through musical harmony. The time has indeed arrived for all humankind to live together in peace and harmony and to Stand Up for that reachable goal."
"Special thanks to Almer Apon, Albert Leong, and John Herbert. God Bless You."