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Preview of Bobby Watson’s “Back Home in Kansas City” featured on WBGO’s New Day, New Play

Bobby Watson
John Abbott
Bobby Watson

Like all players of substance, saxophonist Bobby Watson knows that traction comes from looking over your shoulder…what you have experienced, directly or indirectly. That's where the push forward comes from. Born in Kansas City, and now living there again, Watson has always possessed a founding line at 18th & Vine, which has given him the creativity to imagine, or reimagine. He calls his alto "a singing horn," the quality in his hands apparent throughout Back Home in Kansas City. "Great melodies are immortal," Bobby says. Considering that, the title track is a contrafact of "Back Home in Indiana." There are Watson originals inspired by Herbie Hancock, a John Coltrane composition, alongside tunes brought to the date by bandmates, including pianist Cyrus Chestnut, drummer Victor Jones, trumpeter Jeremy Pelt and long-time musical partner, bassist Curtis Lundy. Curtis’ sister, singer Carmen Lundy, guests on "Our Love Remains," a gorgeous story penned by Bobby and his wife Pamela.

The noted alto saxophonist spoke with WBGO’s Sheila Anderson about his hometown and its significance in jazz history, as well as about how the city inspired the music on this album. Watch their conversation here:

Bobby Watson interview by Sheila Anderson

Listen to the album’s title track, “Back Home from Kansas City,” above.

In jazz radio, great announcers are distinguished by their ability to convey the spontaneity and passion of the music. Gary Walker is such an announcer, and his enthusiasm for this music greets WBGO listeners every morning. This winner of the 1996 Gavin Magazine Jazz Radio Personality of the Year award has hosts the morning show each weekday from 6:00am -12:00pm. And, by his own admission, he's truly having a great time.
Sheila E. Anderson, whose moniker, “Queen of Hang,” is a mover and shaker in the world of art, most notably in jazz. Much focus is placed upon the artists and rightfully so, yet Ms. Anderson is feeding and affecting the scene in myriad ways. She has always taken on the challenges of creating opportunities for herself, developing formats that exist outside the box. In addition to being an on-air-host she is an author, a writer, emcee and moderator. In 1995, she was hired by WBGO, Newark, 88.3FM to host Sunday Morning Harmony, where she now hosts Weekend Jazz After Hours, Salon Sessions and the Sunday Night Music Mix. Ms. Anderson has learned from the musicians whom she spins, "I feel as though radio programming should function much like a live performance. My best shows happen when I am feeling completely free to move with a certain flow and program according to my emotions," Ms. Anderson explains. These are not the words of some novice who just likes jazz music.