Two time Grammy award winning saxophonist, Ernie Watts has a 50+ year career as one of the world’s greatest living saxophonists. A versatile and prolific multi- woodwind player, Watts was a longtime member of Charlie Haden’s Quartet West for nearly 30 years, toured with the Rolling Stones, and has been with everyone from Cannonball Adderley to Frank Zappa. Watts has recorded 27 albums as a leader, and currently leads two different jazz groups, one in Europe, and one in the U. S. Over 6 decades, Ernie has appeared on over 1500 recordings in his career, and won the Independent Music Award for Best Jazz Album, and the Frankfurt Music Prize, won by only 6 jazz musicians of the 32 total winners. Other notable jazz award winners have been Chick Corea, Paquito D’Rivera, and John McLaughlin. Ernie’s stakingly melodic and original tone language on the saxophone has enriched several generations of musicians. In recent times, Ernie has established his own record label with his wife, Patricia, entitled Flying Dolphin Records, to give him the freedom to make music on his own terms. Watts started playing music at the age of 13, studying classical music at the Wilmington Music School. Later he heard Miles Davis’ album, “Kind of Blue”, John Coltrane’s albums, and it was like he put his hand in a light socket. These influences led to Ernie receiving a Downbeat Scholarship to Berklee College of Music. From there Watts joined the Buddy Rich Band, and he would later play with Gerald Wilson’s Jazz Orchestra, and Oliver Nelson’s Big Band on a U.S. State Department Tour in several African nations. Ernie’s career continued as a 20 year member of Doc Severinsen’s Tonight Show Band and making a recording with Thelonious Monk. Watts has recorded as a sideman with over 35 different artists, and been a band member with over 20 different groups. In L.A. Ernie has been a studio player for T.V., Movies, and West Coast Motown, that included playing with Marvin Gaye and Aretha Franklin, and with pop and r&b groups like Steely Dan and Glenn Frey. Along with playing most of the premiere jazz clubs, Watts’ career has included playing Michel Colombier’s Orchestral piece, “Nightbird” at the Dorothy Chandler Pavillion in L.A., with Pat Metheny’s Special Quartet, and with top jazz players in Japan on JVC records. Ernie has recorded with Ron Feuer, Christof Saenger, Kurt Elling, the WDR Big Band, the Croatian Radio/TV Jazz Orchestra, the Slovenia National Radio Band, at the Kennedy Center, with the Billy Cobham Orchestra in Australia, and the L.A. Symphonic Jazz Orchestra. Watts has also worked closely with Dr L. Subramaniam, Herbie Hancock, and the Corky Siegel Chamber Blues Band. As an educator, Ernie conducts clinics and master classes throughout the year. Watts has also performed with the Costa Rica National Symphony, and the Siberian Novsibirsk National Big Band. Ernie says, “I see music as the common bond having potential to bring all people together in peace and harmony. All things in the physical world have vibrations. The music I choose to play is the energy vibration that touches a common bond in people. I believe that music is God singing through us, an energy to be used for good.”’
Pianist and composer Marc Seales is a Professor of Jazz Piano at the University of Washington, in Seattle. Seales has worked with Joe Henderson, Benny Carter, Howard Roberts, Bobby Hutcherson, Art Pepper, and leads his own quartet, and the group “New Stories”. Seales has won the Earshot Jazz Golden Ear Award as best instrumentalist, and his song “Highway Blues” is heard in Windows XP. Seales has appeared on 19 recordings as a leader/co-leader, credits Don Lanphere and Floyd Standifier as mentors, and his influences include Herbie Hancock, Charlie Parker, John Lewis, John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Wynton Kelly, and Bill Evans.
Bassist Kevin Axt has been performing in L.A. for the last 4 decades. Axt started playing classical guitar at the age of 13, and later learned the tuba, and the electric and string bass. Kevin received an orchestra scholarship at USC and studied with L.A. Philharmonic’s co-principal Dennis Trembley. Axt has performed/recorded/ toured with over 30 diverse major artists, the L.A. Jazz Trio, and the jazz bands of Carl Saunders, Steve Huffstetter, Tierney Sutton, and Tom Kubis. Kevin has appeared on over 150 recordings, on dozens of Theatre, Film, and T.V. productions, played on 12 Grammy nominated recordings, and received a nomination as a co-arranger for best arrangement accompanying a vocalist.
Drummer Bob Leatherbarrow also is a percussionist, and vibes player. Bob studied music with a couple of teachers in Buffalo, N.Y., at the Berklee College of Music, and with vibist Dave Samuels. Bob began playing professionally at the age of 14, has played with over 50 different jazz, pop, and classical artists, and on over 100 recordings. Bob has played on over 140 Film and T.V. recordings, T.V./Radio commercials, and live T.V. shows. Bob has received high school achievement and outstanding drummer awards in N.Y. county and state music programs and at the Notre Dame Jazz Festival.