Ken Watters

Atlanta-based trumpeter Ken Watters has performed, toured with, or recorded with Frank Sinatra, Marc Anthony, John Abercrombie, Terry Gibbs, Ravi Coltrane, Brad Mehldau, Mingus Big Band, Roger Hawkins, Bobby "Blue" Bland, Fred Wesley, Roland Vazquez, Richie Cole, Clarence Carter, Dave Valentin, Mike Stern, Anthony Jackson, Chris Potter, Little Milton, Dan Penn, Steve Coleman, David Liebman, Harry Connick Jr., Eartha Kitt, Peter Bernstein, The Fifth Dimension, Petula Clarke, Herbie Mann, Gregory Hutchinson, Tabou Combo, Marvin "Smitty" Smith, The Manhattans, The Platters, Marilyn McCoo, Phyllis Diller, David Holland, Larry Goldings & many other icons of the music world.

Brothers II

Summit Records March 09, 1999

Brothers II, recorded in 2000 by Johnny Sandlin & released internationally on Summit Records, cracked the top 50 on the US jazz charts only a few weeks after its street date & remained on the charts for 9 weeks. The rhythm section on this CD is made up of Ken's former regularly working quartet (Ken Watters Group): David Marlow (piano), Roy Yarbrough (acoustic bass), Jay Frederick(drums) & special guest Tom Wolfe (guitar). Brothers II served to solidify Ken & Harry's reputation for producing listenable yet unmistakeably hard-core, straight ahead jazz.

Ken's composition "Sommerset Road" (written for their late father Harry Watters Sr. & named after the street in Huntsville, Alabama where Ken & Harry grew up) was used in a nationally broadcast television special on civil rights presented by The Freedom Forum in Washington, DC. Several other selections from this 2000 release are still in regular rotation in various parts of the world (Australia, North & South America, U.K., French Caribbean, etc).

Southern Exposure

Summit Records

April 1, 2001

This Ken Watters album for Summit is with his regular working quartet, and provides a play list of standards, jazz tunes (including a couple of originals), and rock stuff adapted for a small jazz group. The result is a mixed bag in terms of the effect upon the ear. A quiet, introspective "Fire & Rain" makes this song sound better than it should, with engaging conversational back-and-forth between Watters and David Marlow's piano and Jay Frederick's shuffling drum rhythms holding it all together. If there can be such a thing as a thinking man's rock tune, this is what it sounds like. More introspection, modern-style (but with Bach overtones if Bach had written jazz music), on a ten-minute journey into the compositional mind of Watters. This track demands close, careful listening if one is to grab fully the interplay between the musicians. One of the loudest of the conversationalists, and most glib, is the probing, combative soprano sax of Joel Frahm. He fits in like he was called up, invited to a party, and told to "Come as you are." But olé, here comes "Jessica" with an infectious Latin beat to lighten up matters. Then come the standards. The only part of "Stella by Starlight" used is its title. This oft-recorded song (and probably one of the most beautiful of all popular tunes) is given an impressionistic rendering with dazzling piano runs by Marlow and melodic drumming by Frederick built around the assertive horn of leader Watters. "We'll Be Together Again" is accorded much more respectful treatment with a romantic opening by Marlow and Davis-like musing by Watters. Creative modern music is the norm here, and they do it well.

Brothers III

Summit Records May 01, 2003

Trumpeter Ken Watters and his brother, trombonist Harry Watters co-lead this unpredictable set, Brothers, Vol. 3, their third collaboration for Summit. Although some of the music is straight-ahead, other tunes are melancholy ballads and contemporary originals that are subtle post-bop. The soft tones of the brothers (Ken sometimes switches to flugelhorn), and the light rhythm section (guitarist Tom Wolfe, bassist Erik Applegate, drummer Jay Frederick and, on five of the dozen numbers, pianist Bill Anschell) gives the music a floating, dreamy feel. The set is often quite relaxing but also includes a few hotter pieces for variety. Well worth exploring.