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Bobby Watson and Curtis Lundry: Beatitudes

It’s hard to recall, but there was a time, not long ago, when concepts like “neo-hard bop” and “young lions” were not in vogue. This album hails from that era (1983), as it is the CD reissue (with bonus tracks) of an LP, not on a major, but from the New Note label, an artist’s label run by Watson and Lundy.

The music here is crackling and sharp. If people were paying attention then, perhaps this too would have been in vogue. On alto saxophone, Watson plays with a deep strong tone and an attack full of verve and bite. The session is a quartet date with an excellent rhythm section. Mulgrew Miller has a full-bodied attack at the piano, while youngster Kenny Washington is in the pocket at the tubs. Bassist Lundy was at that time already a long-term associate of Watson’s, and their empathy is evident on the recording.

As is also the wont in the “young lion” concept, the album is chock full of original compositions by Watson (plus one by Lundy, and Gigi Gryce’s “Minority”). However, here the original pieces all grab you. There is no young composer today who can write with the strength and clarity of Bobby Watson; the songs are more than just tunes to blow on-they are lyrical and coherent, lending to fine playing that remains memorable.

Originally Published