Album Remarks & Appraisals:
This 2008 release is the third recording by Bobby Watson on Palmetto. The immensely talented and now seasoned veteran has some 26 recordings as a leader. He appears on close to 100 other recordings as either co-leader or in a supporting role for other like-minded musicians. Bobby performed with Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers from 1977 to 1981, eventually becoming the musical director for the group. The Jazz Messengers, sometimes referred to as the "University of Blakey," served as the ultimate "postgraduate school" for ambitious young players. Bobby has done much the same as Blakey did with his band here on From The Heart. With the exception of the bassist Curtis Lundy, the players are all young and ambitious. Bobby is taking a sabbatical from his post as director of Jazz studies at the University of Missouri - Kansas City in order to tour this band.
JazzTimes (p.113) - "The ballad 'Purple Flowers' highlights his singing tone....Watson also stands out on the Latin-flavored 'Aye Carumba,' and on brisk, straightforward vehicles like 'Peace, Love, and Carrots'..."
Personnel: Bobby Ray Watson (alto saxophone); Warren Wolf (piano); Curtis Lundy (bass guitar); Quincy Davis (drums); Quincy (drum); Leron Thomas (trumpet); Harold O'Neal (piano).
Liner Note Author: Bobby Ray Watson.
Recording information: Maggie's Farm, Buck's County, PA (01/14/2007/01/15/2007).
Bobby Watson credits Art Blakey with showing him the ropes through the apprentice system, which included recruiting up-and-coming musicians, giving them advice, plus encouraging the younger players to write charts and originals for the band. Watson's Live & Learn band is such a format, a successor to his earlier on-again, off-again Horizon, with one former member back in the fold in bassist Curtis Lundy. The alto saxophonist has changed the format slightly, expanding his quintet to add vibes, played ably by Warren Wolf, with pianist Harold O'Neal, trumpeter Leron Thomas, and drummer Quincy Davis all showing promising signs of players who are likely to make lasting impressions on the jazz scene. Watson contributed six originals, including the hip, tasty riff tune "Wilkes BBQ," the perky "Deep Pockets," and the humorous Latin-flavored post-bop "Aye Caramba." O'Neal contributed the richly textured ballad "Purple Flowers" and the intricate "Timeless," while Wolf penned the lush "For Milt" (which is likely for the late vibraphonist Milt Jackson). Thomas' "Marcus Vein" provides an intense cooker to wrap this outstanding session. ~ Ken Dryden