Ernie Watts

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Ernie Watts
Ernie Watts.jpg
Ernie Watts in 2008
Photo by Bob Travis
Background information
Birth name Ernest James Watts
Born (1945-10-23) October 23, 1945 (age 71)
Norfolk, Virginia, U.S.
Genres Jazz, rhythm and blues
Occupation(s) Musician
Instruments Saxophone, flute, clarinet
Years active 1960s–present
Labels Motown, Tamla, Atlantic, Warner Bros., A&M, CBS, Qwest
Associated acts Charlie Haden, Buddy Rich, The Tonight Show Band, Marvin Gaye
Website erniewatts.com


Ernest James "Ernie" Watts (born October 23, 1945) is an American jazz and rhythm and blues saxophonist who plays soprano, alto, and tenor saxophone. He has worked with Charlie Haden's Quartet West and toured with the Rolling Stones. On Frank Zappa's album The Grand Wazoo he played the "Mystery Horn", a straight-necked C melody saxophone. He played the notable saxophone riff on The One You Love by Glenn Frey.

Biography[edit]

Ernie Watts at Great American Music Hall, San Francisco, California, August 8, 1987, photo by Brian McMillen

Watts was born in Norfolk, Virginia, and began playing saxophone at thirteen. After a brief period at West Chester University, he attended the Berklee College of Music on a Down Beat magazine scholarship. He toured with Buddy Rich in the mid-1960s, occupying one of the alto saxophone chairs, with Lou Marini occupying the other. He visited Africa on a U.S. State Department tour with Oliver Nelson's group. For twenty years he played tenor saxophone with The Tonight Show Band under Doc Severinsen. He was a featured soloist on many of Marvin Gaye's albums on Motown during the 1970s, as well as on many other pop and R&B sessions during his twenty-five years as a studio musician in Los Angeles. He has won two Grammy Awards as an instrumentalist.

In the mid-1980s Watts decided to rededicate himself to jazz. He recorded and toured with German guitarist and composer Torsten de Winkel, drummer Steve Smith, and keyboardist Tom Coster. He was invited to join Charlie Haden's Quartet West. They met backstage one night after Haden heard Watts play "Nightbird" by Michel Colombier. Watts played on soundtracks for the movies Grease and The Color Purple and on the theme song for the TV show Night Court.[1]

He was featured in the Windows XP edition Jazz preview. The song he was featured in was "Highway Blues".[2]

In 2008, his album Analog Man won the Independent Music Award for Best Jazz Album.[3] He played on Kurt Elling's album Dedicated to You, which won the Grammy Award for Best Jazz Vocal Album in 2011.

Discography[edit]

As leader[edit]

  • Planet Love (Pacific Jazz, 1969)
  • The Wonder Bag (Vault, 1972)
  • Look in Your Heart (Elektra, 1980)
  • Chariots of Fire (Qwest, 1982)
  • Musician (Qwest, 1985)
  • Sanctuary (Qwest, 1986)
  • The Ernie Watts Quartet (JVC, 1987 [1991])
  • Afoxe with Gilberto Gil (CTI, 1991)
  • Reaching Up (JVC, 1994)
  • Unity (JVC, 1995)
  • Long Road Home (JVC, 1996)
  • Classic Moods (JVC, 1998)
  • Reflections with Ron Feuer (Flying Dolphin, 2000)
  • Alive (Flying Dolphin, 2004)
  • Spirit Song (Flying Dolphin, 2005)
  • Analog Man (Flying Dolphin, 2006)
  • To The Point (Flying Dolphin, 2007)
  • Four Plus Four (Flying Dolphin, 2009)
  • Oasis (Flying Dolphin, 2011)
  • Wheel of Time (Flying Dolphin, 2016)

With Karma

  • Celebration (Horizon/A&M, 1976)[4]
  • For Everybody (Horizon/A&M, 1977)[5]

As sideman[edit]

With Billy Alessi and Bobby Alessi

  • Words and Music (A&M, 1979)
  • Long Time Friends (Qwest, 1982)

With Gene Ammons

With Paul Anka

  • Walk a Fine Line (CBS, 1983)

With Willie Bobo

With Brass Fever

With Kenny Burrell

With Lee Ritenour

  • Stolen Moments (GRP, 1989)

With David Axelrod

With Donald Byrd

With Stanley Clarke

  • Time Exposure (CBS, 1984)

With Randy Crawford

With Kurt Elling

With Marvin Gaye

With Dizzy Gillespie

With Charlie Haden

With Bobby Hutcherson

With Milt Jackson

With J. J. Johnson

With Carole King

With Charles Kynard

With Eric Martin

  • Eric Martin (Capitol, 1985)

With John Mayall

With Carmen McRae

With Blue Mitchell

With Helen Reddy

With New Stories

  • Speakin' Out (1998)

With Moacir Santos

With Lalo Schifrin

With Bud Shank

With Gábor Szabó

With Gino Vannelli

With Gerald Wilson

With Torsten de Winkel and Hellmut Hattler

  • Mastertouch (EMI, 1985)

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Watts, Ernie (James Ernest) – Jazz.com | Jazz Music – Jazz Artists – Jazz News". Jazz.com. October 23, 1945. Archived from the original on November 8, 2013. Retrieved 2014-07-17. 
  2. ^ "The official home page for Ernie Watts". ErnieWatts.com. Retrieved 2014-07-17. 
  3. ^ [1] Archived March 6, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
  4. ^ Karma - Celebration (LP liner notes). Horizon/A&M Records. SP-713
  5. ^ Karma - For Everybody (LP liner notes). Horizon/A&M Records. SP-723

External links[edit]