A Grammy-nominated saxophonist, composer, producer, and educator, Bobby Watson trained formally at the University of Miami and then earned his “doctorate” as musical director of Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, the ultimate "postgraduate school" for ambitious young players. Along the way, he worked with notable jazz artists Max Roach, Louis Hayes, George Coleman, Sam Rivers and Wynton and Branford Marsalis, as well as vocalists Joe Williams, Dianne Reeves, Lou Rawls, Betty Carter, and Carmen Lundy.
Later, in association with bassist Curtis Lundy and drummer Victor Lewis, Watson launched the first edition of Horizon, his acoustic quintet. He has also led the High court of Swing (a tribute to the music of Johnny Hodges), The Tailor-Made Big Band and is a founding member of the highly acclaimed 29th Street Saxophone Quartet. Watson also wrote original music for the sound track of Robert De Niro’s directorial debut A Bronx Tale. Bobby has recorded 26 records as a leader and appears on over 80 recordings to date.
He has over 100 compositions recorded, and his long time publisher, Second Floor Music, publishes many of his original combo and big band arrangements. His recent recordings on Palmetto records are From the Heart, Live and Learn, and Horizon Reassembled. Bobby was a member of the adjunct faculty and taught private saxophone at William Patterson University 1985-86 and Manhattan School of Music 1996-1999.
In 2000, Bobby was awarded the first William and Mary Grant/Missouri Professor of Jazz, an endowed professorship in jazz and serves as the director of jazz studies at the University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory of Music and Dance. His latest release From the Heart was number one on the jazz radio charts.