Saxophonist Bobby Watson has long carried the legacy of Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers — of which he was an integral member in the early '80s — across his work as the bandleader for his group Horizons. Now, with the release of his new album Keepin' It Real
, he passes Blakey's legacy and his own lifetime's worth of jazz experience on to a new generation of musicians. The title track for that album kicks off our JAZZIZ Discover Playlist for the week of July 6. Keepin' It Real
features a new group with a familiar-sounding name — New Horizons — featuring 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, it's worth noting, was also the founding bassist of the original Horizon, which also included drummer Victor Lewis, pianist Edward Simon, trumpeters Melton Mustafa or Terell Stafford, and bassists Carroll Dashiell or Essiet Okon Essiet.
Watson says the new album derives its name from his own philosophies as a bandleader, many of which were shaped under the tutelage of Blakey. “It’s the essence of who you are and these times we’re living in,” said Watson in a press statement. “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.”
Watson is a proud custodian of the hard-bop saxophone tradition, and while he certainly acknowledges that his sound is rooted in the past, he vision is trained squarely on the future. “The original Horizon has run its course,” Watson said. “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.” Also, congrats to Jarez for being our Inside Track Artist of the Week! His song "Shine" from the album J Funk City, is available on his website. As writer Whitney Balliett once said, “Jazz is the sound of surprise.” Our Weekly Discover playlist will take your ears to new places with the latest sounds from your favorite artists — and some you should definitely get to know. Catch up on albums that came out over the weekend, newly released singles and other tunes that may have flown under your radar. Stream now on Spotify or on your favorite music service using the links below.