Ernie Watts – A Simple Truth – Flying Dolphin FD 1009, 55:10 [9/20/14] *****:
(Ernie Watts – tenor sax; Russ Feuer – piano on tracks 1 & 8 ; Christof Saenger – piano; Rudi Engel – acoustic bass; Heinrich Koebberling – drums)
I sorely miss Charlie Haden’s group, Quartet West, who made some of the most romantic chamber jazz noir recordings. With Haden’s recent passing, we will need to settle for the series of CDs that Quartet West produced.
Along with Alan Broadbent’s piano accompaniment, it was also the exquisite ballad playing of tenor sax titan, Ernie Watts, that helped bring out the moving mood music of that group.
Lucky for us that we still have Ernie Watts to tug at our heartstrings. He is now recording for his own label, Flying Dolphin Records. Coming out next month is a concept recording that brings to mind Quartet West. Titled A Simple Truth, it takes us through a “jazz day.”
Opening and closing with “The Sound: Morning” and “The Sound: Evening” which layer orchestral music over the piano of Russ Feuer and Watt’s tenor, these two tracks are bookends for a journey that is filled out by Watt’s German rhythm section on the other six tracks.
The opening sunrise track leads to Keith Jarrett’s ballad, “No Lonely Nights” which begins as a capella solo by Watts. The rest of the quartet then step in backing Ernie’s passionate playing. The day’s pace is quickened on “The Road We’re On,” written by the quartet’s drummer, Heinrich Koebberling. It’s a mid-temp blues.
Watt’s “Acceptance” follows, and the our day is humming along with vibrancy. Before we move into the winding down of energy, we’re treated to a frantic Dizzy Gillespie “Bebop.” Billy Child’s “Hope in the Face of Despair” begins our reflection on whether we’ve taken on too much emotion and drama. The title track follows and Ernie concludes with the wisdom of maturity that it’s time to reflect on what is truly important. Feuer and Watts concur on the closer “The Sound: Evening” and we’ve ended our day with the relaxation we so surely deserve before beginning the rat race we may need to face soon enough.
Watts and company provide the musical interlude that will nourish the listener’s soul. It’s a sublime listening experience…
TrackList: The Sound: Morning, No Lonely Nights, The Road We’re On, Acceptance, Bebop, Hope in the Face of Despair, A Simple Truth, The Sound: Evening