Ernie Watts Quartet – A Simple Truth (2014)

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Going back to his early days in the late Charlie Haden’s Quartet West, Ernie Watts has displayed a rare facility to play with both tender reminiscence and husky power — something that continues to hold the saxist in good stead on this newly released concept album.

A Simple Truth, named for a late-cycle song of shimmering beauty and issued on his own Flying Dolphin Records, finds Watts and a band he’s worked with for more than a decade journeying through a 24-hour cycle in sound — from the meditative Keith Jarrett item “No Lonely Nights” into Watts’ bustling original “Acceptance” and from an energetic reading of “Bebop” from Dizzy Gillespie toward the reflective quietude of Billy Child’s “Hope in the Face of Despair.”

Ron Feuer created a sensuous orchestral theme to open and close A Simple Truth, made complete by some of this set’s most thoughtful improvisations from Watts. In between, drummer Heinrich Koebberling (who composed the swinging “The Road We’re On”), pianist Christof Saenger and bassist Rudi Engel make clear just how complex simple truths can be — when it comes to our busy lives, and to music. They speak a complicated language, both intimate and muscular, echoing and amplifying their leader.

This leads to endless fascinations: For the way blues continues to inform their sound, and the way melody finds its way out of even the most relentless tempo, and the way each discreet mood is constructed into a larger narrative. The Simple Truth is a day that you never want to end.

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has written for USA Today, American Songwriter, All About Jazz, and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the U.S. by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Nick is now associate editor of Ultimate Classic Rock.
Nick DeRiso
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