Bobby Watson has both good taste in food and in the jazz he has brought to the public for many years, ranging from his time as musical director during his period with Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers all the way up to his recent reformation of Horizon with Terell Stafford, Edward Simon, Essiet Essiet, and Victor Lewis. I had the privilege to see Horizon over Labor Day weekend in Detroit, and it was a treat.
Speaking of a treat, you can’t do much better than chomping on barbeque ribs while listening to your favorite hard bop or soul jazz tracks. When Bobby returned to his hometown, Kansas City, in 2000, to direct the Jazz Studies program at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, he was also returning to the food of his youth. His grandparents ran a barbeque restaurant in Merriam, Kansas. Further to Watson, Kansas City is “the Napa Valley of barbeque, and Gates Barbeque stands alone as king of the valley.”
It wasn’t much of a stretch for Bobby to get the inspiration for his seven- part extended big band work that celebrates his love both for this lip- smacking food and his upbringing in the area. After being away from Kansas City for 25 years in New York City, writing this suite must have been a labor of love.
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