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Bobby Watson: Quiet as It’s Kept

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This recording has some of the sheen of a crossover effort-but there is too much musicality and relaxed intensity here to dismiss it so easily. Watson’s alto and soprano are in fine and tuneful fettle, abetted on three tracks by trumpeter Terrell Stafford, who never fails to raise a listener’s eyebrow in delight. The rhythm section reinforces the sense of relaxed intensity. Pianist Orrin Evans phrases nicely against the bar lines; guitarist Greg Skaff adds both electric and nylon string flair to the mix. Curtis Lundy on bass and percussionist Marlon Simon spar with drummer Ralph Peterson, whose power and range give even the mellowest moments here a bit of bristle. The somewhat over-produced “Afternoon in Ottobrun” notwithstanding, the textures throughout are engaging and natural. “Watch the Children Play” opens with a lovely duet between Watson and Lundy, who are joined by guitarist Lenny Argese for some high spirited improvisation before relaxing again into the duet. As ever, Watson marshals his technique in service of the melody: he is not one for cascades of empty riffs. And here’s hoping this album does cross over; call it mood music, yes, but call it a deep mood.