from Norfolk, VA
October 23, 1945 (age 75)
Because he was involved in many commercial recording projects from the mid-'70s through the early '80s and on an occasional basis ever since, some observers wrote Ernie Watts off prematurely as a pop/RB tenorman. Actually, Watts' main hero has always been John Coltrane, and his later work reveals him to be an intense and masterful jazz improviser who has developed his own sheets-of-sound approach along with a distinctive and soulful sound. After attending Berklee, he had an important stint with Buddy Rich's big band (1966-1968) before moving to Los Angeles. Watts worked in the big bands of Oliver Nelson and Gerald Wilson, recorded with Jean-Luc Ponty in 1969, and became a staff musician for NBC, performing with the Tonight Show Band on a regular basis. His own records of the 1970s and early '80s were generally pop-ish (1982's Chariots of Fire was a big seller), and Watts played frequently with Lee Ritenour and Stanley Clarke, in addition to recording with Cannonball Adderley (one of his idols) in 1972. However, Ernie Watts' work became much more interesting from a jazz standpoint starting in the mid-'80s when he joined Charlie Haden's Quartet West and started recording no-nonsense quartet dates for JVC. Ernie Watts has developed into one of the most powerful of tenormen with complete control over his horn and the ability to bring intensity and passion (plus taste) to any musical situation. ~ Scott Yanow, Rovi
Ernie Watts With New Stories | Live At The Ballard Jazz Festival
Ernie Watts. A Melodic Approach to Improvisation.
Ernie Watts - No Doubt About It (1986)
Ernie Watts is an Unsung Hero of Jazz
Pete Christlieb & Ernie Watts with the NBC Orchestra - "Sax Alley" - Live -1984
Randy Brecker, Ernie Watts And Stanley Clarke On Jazzvisions.
Ernie Watts & The Marc Seales Trio 'Bebop' | Live Studio Session
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