Nov 12, 2022
Bobby Watson continues to carry the Hard Bop torch well into the 21st century. And he sounds as vibrant as ever on his latest release, Back Home in Kansas City (Smoke Sessions Records), which was released last month. He’s joined by some familiar faces – his longtime rhythm section of bassist Curtis Lundy and drummer Victor Jones along with two stars in their own right - pianist Cyrus Chestnut and trumpeter Jeremy Pelt.
The album is made up of Watson tunes old and new, as he finally got around to recording a few tunes that he had on the shelf. He has three contrafacts as well – his takes on classics from “Maiden Voyage” to “Back Home in Indiana” to “Giant Steps.”
As his Jazz Messenger boss Art Blakey taught him, your sidemen can bring in great tunes as well. Jones contributes the stealthy “Red Bank Heist,” and Chestnut contributes the sparkling “A Star in the East,” an easygoing waltz that thrives on the rich melody shared by Watson and Pelt. The trumpeter’s offering is the tender “Celestial,” highlighted by his own muted eloquence.
In addition, old friend Carmen Lundy comes by to join the band for “Our Love Remains,” co-written by Watson and his wife Pamela. In instrumental form, the song was the title track for his 1986 album Love Remains and was recorded again for 1992’s Present Tense. The vocal version has previously been recorded by Kevin Mahogany and Melissa Walker, and Lou Rawls was planning his own rendition prior to his death.
Bobby shares insights into the writing and recording of Back Home in Kansas City, and shares how he reharmonizes tunes to get them to sit best on his alto horn. Want to know what he has planned next? Listen to Podcast 941.