Simply put, Bobby Watson is one of the most important alto saxophonists/jazz musicians on the scene today. His recorded output measures in the hundreds, he is revered as a jazz educator, and many of his compositions have become jazz standards. Watson earned the limelight as a member of Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, where he served as music director and recorded 12 albums between 1977 and 1981. After leaving the Messengers, Watson became a sideman with Max Roach, Louis Hayes, the Marsalis Brothers, George Coleman and Sam Rivers. He also provided a supporting role for a number of vocalists including: Joe Williams, Dianne Reeves, Lou Rawls, Betty Carter and Carmen Lundy.
But the group Watson is best known for is the ensemble that will perform at the Jazz Center: Horizon. Watson, along with bassist Curtis Lundy and drummer Victor Lewis, launched the first edition of Horizon, an acoustic quintet modeled in many ways after the Jazz Messengers but one with its own distinct slightly more modern twist. The group is now considered one of the preeminent small groups of the mid-1980s to mid-1990s when they toured constantly and recorded several highly acclaimed titles for Blue Note and Columbia. Watson and Lewis continue as the backbone of the group. At the VJC’s performance they will be joined by venerable alumni pianist Ed Simon and bassist Essiet Okon Essiet as well as trumpeter Giveton Gelin.