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AVAILABLE NOW: Bobby Watson | “Keepin’ It Real” | Smoke Sessions Records

AVAILABLE NOW via Smoke Sessions Records:
Saxophonist/Composer Bobby Watson Convenes New Incarnation of His Horizon Quintet to Inaugurate Thrilling New Chapter in his
Musical Life with Keepin’ It Real

Features Trumpeters Josh Evans and Giveton Gelin,
Bassist Curtis Lundy, Pianist Victor Gould and
Drummer Victor Jones as New Horizon,
Furthering the Legacy of Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers

As saxophonist/composer Bobby Watson embarks on a new chapter in his storied career, his latest album arrives as a reminder of the authenticity that has characterized his music on every step of that journey. Keepin’ It Real, available now via Smoke Sessions Records, debuts a new incarnation of his renowned band Horizon, furthering a legacy endowed by Watson’s days as one of Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers and passed on through a lifetime in jazz education.

Most importantly, the new album is a vital continuation of the supple hard-bop sound that Watson has practiced throughout the decades, laced with the profound influences of gospel and R&B and now infused with the renewed vigor of hungry young collaborators. Keepin’ It Real, Watson explains, is a mantra that he strives to exemplify every time he lifts his alto to his lips.

“It’s the essence of who you are and these times we’re living in,” he says. “After you’ve lived a certain period of time you want to try to be yourself. You don’t want to BS people. I’ve lived a while and seen a lot of people leave the planet. You become more committed to not trying to mince words. Keeping it real can extend from the way you treat your band to your philosophy, what you stand for as a person.”

Time becomes an especially valuable commodity as one advances in years, but Watson now finds himself in a position to dedicate more of it than ever to his own music. After 20 years as Director of Jazz Studies at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and decades more as an educator at institutions like Manhattan School of Music, the New School, and William Paterson University, Watson retired from academia this year. That newfound freedom instigated the launch of a new version of Horizon featuring a cast of rising stars and one lifelong collaborator.

The original Horizon featured drummer Victor Lewis, pianist Edward Simon, trumpeters Melton Mustafa or Terell Stafford, and bassists Carroll Dashiell or Essiet Okon Essiet and was an outlet for Watson’s music from the late 80s well into the 21st century. After a short tour with the band earlier this year, Watson realized that a reinvention was in order, in keeping with his mentor’s constant retooling of the Jazz Messengers.

Rechristened New Horizon, the current band includes trumpeters Josh Evans or Giveton Gelin, pianist Victor Gould, drummer Victor Jones and bassist Curtis Lundy, whose relationship with Watson dates back to their college days at the University of Miami. Lundy was the founding bassist of the original Horizon, providing an essential continuity as well as a stunning rebirth.

“The original Horizon has run its course,” Watson concludes. “Art Blakey also moved on while everybody was still young and healthy, and everybody in that band has grown into their own thing. That’s why I wanted to start fresh, with new music, new personnel, fresh blood, and new energy.”

“Keepin’ It Real” was produced by Paul Stache and Damon Smith and recorded live in New York at Sear Sound’s Studio C on a Sear-Avalon custom console at 96KHz/24bit and mixed to ½” analog tape using a Studer mastering deck. Available in audiophile HD format.

Bobby Watson · Keepin’ It Real
Smoke Sessions Records · Release Date: June 26, 2020

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