Bobby Watson – Back Home in Kansas City – Smoke Sessions Records

by | Oct 16, 2022 | Jazz CD Reviews | 0 comments

Prime Time Bobby…

Bobby Watson – Back Home in Kansas City – Smoke Sessions Records #SSR-2205 – 65:50 – *****

(Bobby Watson – alto sax; Jeremy Pelt – trumpet; Cyrus Chestnut – piano; Curtis Lundy – bass; Victor Jones – drums; Carmen Lundy – vocals on “Our Love Remains”)

For lovers of jazz saxophone that encompasses blues, swing, and hard bop, Bobby Watson is your man. Bobby held down the alto sax chair in the late 70s with Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, after graduating from the University of Miami. He later led a Blakey and Horace Silver influenced group, Horizon. From the late 80s all the way up to 2020, Watson shared his knowledge and Kansas City roots, as a college professor for several college jazz programs. 

He has continued to both lead, and as a noted sideman, record for nearly a half century. If you love Cannonball Adderley, and the soulfulness of Gene Ammons and Sonny Stitt, and hearing church gospel roots with blues influences, then I have a new CD just for you. It is Bobby’s Back Home in Kansas City. Recorded at Sear Sound in New York City (seems like a very busy studio with all the current jazz issues from there recently), it is pure listening heaven. Bobby picked from the best of both the Smoke Sessions Roster of artists, as well as Big Apple based musicians, for a dream quintet.

Sharing the front line with him is trumpeter, Jeremy Pelt. There is no better pianist for the gospel soul roots on these charts than Cyrus Chestnut. Chestnut’s jazz hymn albums are among my favorites of this genre.

Bassist Curtis Lundy and drummer, Victor Jones complete the rhythm section. Curtis’ sister, Carmen provides a warm vocal on Watson’s composition, “Our Love Remains.”

The eleven tracks are divided up between five original Watson tracks, one each from Pelt and Jones, and songs from Coltrane (“Dear Lord”), John Hicks (“Mind Wine”) and the standard, “I’m Glad There is You.”

The constant throughout is a feel good ensemble mix, with Bobby’s and Jeremy’s solos bringing a glow backed by Chestnut’s piano prowess. The swing and blues dedication to Kansas City is on proud display. At 69 years old, Bobby Watson is still bringing it…!!

Back Home in Kansas City
Red Bank Heist
Our Love Remains
Bon Voyage
The Star in the East
Mind Wine
Dear Lord
Side Steps
I’m Glad There is You
Blues for Alto

—Jeff Krow

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Album Cover for Bobby Watson Back Home in Kansas City

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