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Ernie Watts

Kingsleyhk

Senior Member
Messages
508
Fantastic concert with Ernie Watts and the Jeremy Monteiro Trio (Singapore-based band) at the FCC in Hong Kong last night. Small venue (about 120 people). I was in the front row just off centre so about four feet away and could see a lot of the false fingering, etc., he was doing. Breathtaking technique.

Basically he played his new CD (Oasis). Highlights for me - although it was all fantastic - were his versions of the song One day I'll fly away from Moulin Rouge and a Beatles tune that I didn't know (was always a Stones man) called Blackbird.

As a sax player what struck me apart from the sheer technique was his tone and his absolute consistency and comfort all over the horn from low Bb way up into altissimo. If only . . . .

Had a couple of nice chats with him at the break and after about saxes (Keilwerth SX90R with custom neck), mouthpieces (Custom 1960s Link; Oleg lig) and some of the tricks he was using. Gave me my practice tasks for the next month or so! An absolute gentleman.
 

Kingsleyhk

Senior Member
Messages
508
Actually the second time I've seen him here but last night was in a much smaller venue. I asked him about a trick he does of trilling the E and F palm keys with his right (yes right) hand - sort of like a pianist crossing hands on the key board. I asked him what else he was doing as he was obviously fingering some of the LH keys but I couldn't see clearly. He said he was fingering B and also lip-slurring while trilling the E/F keys with his right hand. I also noticed that sometimes he was only fingering G.

He also told me that he uses a different neck - made by Schucht Sax Technology in Germany. I mentioned to him that I had put a Steve Goodison neck on my Selmer and it had made a lot of different to the tuning between the two registers. He said that the Schucht neck - which looks very much like a Selmer neck - had the same effect for him on the Keilwerth. One other thing he mentioned was that he had changed the thumb rest - again a Schucht product - and that had made a huge difference - although he couldn't figure out why it would. Anyone got any ideas?

Marvellous to be able to talk like that to a legend - and great of him to bother to spend the time. When he was being reintroduced after the break, the MC - an old mate - looked down at me and asked if I'd got any tips, and before I could answer, Ernie said, "Oh yes, we had a great chat." Nice!
 

Greg Strange

Well-Known Member
Messages
2,077
Great player Ernie Watts. One of those guys who's played on hundreds of albums but still relatively unknown to people outside the saxophone community. I own several album's of Ernie's and a number he's played on as a sideman. Unique sound on saxophone whether he is playing soprano, alto, or tenor.
Saxophone journal did an excellent article about him a few years ago. I remember an interview in Downbeat a number of years ago and the interviewer commented on the number of sessions Ernie did in the 1970s, 1980s. etc, and Ernie said he did the sessions Tom Scott couldn't make. A real humble guy.
Somebody like Ernie should be playing in stadiums (well he has, Rolling Stones Still Life tour) instead of 120 seat venues - every saxophone player in Hong Kong should take the time to attend a masterclass of a master saxophonist.
The only time he has ever been to NZ was back in 1986 - about time he visited again.

By the way Kev I think he tours Germany and Europe on a regular basis because according to the Saxophone Journal he has an American based quartet (for the US and outside Europe) and German based quartet for the European tours.
I can't speak more highly of Ernie.
Regards,

Greg S.

By the way you're lucky seeing him in concert.:thumb: Choice!
 

Kingsleyhk

Senior Member
Messages
508
According to his website, he tours Europe twice a year. The CD I bought (Oasis) and he signed "Keep playing" was recorded in Cologne and the trio is (I assume ) German - Christof Saenger pno, Rudi Engel bass, Heinrich Koebberling drs.

This site:

http://www.discogs.com/artist/Ernie...nce=&t=Credits_Instruments-Performance&q=&p=1

lists all his credits - over 400 of them!

BTW - the 120 seat venue was a private (not jazz) club, who happened to hear he was in town and booked him. I agree, he deserves a bigger audience - but Hong Kong is not really a jazz town. As you say - really lucky to have seen him here twice in the last twelve months.
 
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