Bobby Watson boasts a long résumé and proven track record. Yet the versatile alto player doles out much solo space to the unheralded sidemen on From the Heart. The album, Watson’s first since 2004, features well-developed compositions whose riffs and melodies recall the soulful hard-bop of Art Blakey and Horace Silver. But more than half of the tracks fall into the four- and five-minute range; as a consequence, the solos fail to stretch beyond a chorus. Watson makes the most of the self-imposed boundaries, and the results merit his reputation. He plays an abbreviated but heated solo on the opener, “Wilkes BBQ” (an excerpt from a big-band suite he plans to premiere in the fall).
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