Born: July 6, 1964 Primary Instrument: Trumpet
Lately, trumpeter Ken Watters is moving in a different direction than anyone (even Ken) expected... His newest project is called RIYEL (pronounced ree- YELL / meaning alleyway, or backstreet in Haitian Kreyol) & features, among others, Haitian bassist extraordinaire YVES ABEL (Tabou Combo, Beethove Obas, Emeline Michel, etc), trombonist ANDRE ATKINS (Aretha Franklin, Steve Coleman, Soulive, etc) & a supporting cast of some of Haiti's finest & most creative musicians on the world music scene... The octet's debut CD will be released this spring on Summit Records & will be distributed worldwide, including extensively throughout the French Caribbean. RIYEL has already created such a buzz that the band has received numerous invitations to perform at some of the better-known jazz festivals throughout the Caribbean. Recently, three of RIYEL's new songs were featured on Radio Metropole's Saturday Morning Jazz Show in Port-au- Prince, Haiti. Before the first track was over, the show's host reported that a new record had been set for in-studio call-ins inquiring about the band... Hopefully, this is a harbinger of things to come -- who knows? Regardless, the music performed by RIYEL is Haitian-inspired, real, improvised, challenging & original JAZZ. This is not a group that calls itself a jazz group simply because there is no singer -- on the contrary, this is a jazz group because the ensemble performs jazz, pure & simple. With a strong Haitian (at times Voodoo-flavored) twist...
BIO: Jazz trumpeters who have struck Watters the hardest stylistically are Kenny Wheeler, Woody Shaw, Tim Hagans, Lester Bowie, Terrell Stafford, Clifford Brown, Freddie Hubbard, Olu Dara, Wynton Marsalis, Greg Gisbert, Miles Davis, & Mike Thomas (his longtime mentor from Huntsville, AL). His compositional style is strongly influenced by Pat Metheny, Wayne Shorter, Al Green, Rickie Lee Jones, Jimmy Webb, Brian Blade, Nickel Creek, Chris Potter, Willie Nelson, Bill Frisell, John Lennon / Paul McCartney / George Harrison, Joe Henderson & countless others.
Ken has performed, toured with, or recorded with Frank Sinatra, Marc Anthony, Natalie Cole, John Abercrombie, Terry Gibbs, Ravi Coltrane, Mingus Big Band, Kelis, Roger Hawkins, Bobby Blue Bland, Gregg Allman, Fred Wesley, Roland Vazquez, Richie Cole, Dave Valentin, Mike Stern, Bill Goodwin, Anthony Jackson, Chris Potter, Little Milton, Dan Penn, Steve Coleman, Gene Perla, David Liebman, Harry Connick Jr., Eartha Kitt, Peter Bernstein, The Fifth Dimension, Philip Harper, Petula Clarke, Russell Malone, Herbie Mann, Gregory Hutchinson, Tabou Combo, Marvin Smitty Smith, Steel Pulse, Walt Disney World, The Manhattans, The Platters, Marilyn McCoo, Phyllis Diller, David Holland, Larry Goldings & many other icons of the music world.
Watters received his formal education from Interlochen Arts Academy, University of North Texas, The Banff Centre & Manhattan School of Music. He has also studied privately with Wynton Marsalis, Joe Lovano, Dave Liebman, Jack Walrath & Kenny Wheeler. Ken is a Yamaha Performing Artist/Clinician, a Summit Recording Artist & a SESAC affiliated jazz composer. He & his wife Pamela now reside in the Atlanta area.
Brothers Ken & Harry Watters are a class act. Superb musicianship, sparkling treatments of Twentieth Century classics, and exceptional original compositions. Their recordings are splendid & extremely gratifying -- highly recommended. - Amazon.com
“Ken Watters is without a doubt one of the finest trumpet and flugelhorn performers in jazz today as well as one of the leading composers. Each solo performance is both impeccable and full of energy.” - The Jazz Review
Harry Watters is a great young trombonist with breathtaking technical assurance. - The Washington Post
The Watters Brothers have scored my 'Rave of the Year' twice with their 'Brothers' & 'Brothers II' CDs. Trumpeter Ken's bebop sensibilities combined with trombonist Harry's more traditional leanings make for a warm, captivating brand of jazz that brings back fond memories and makes new ones. - The Jazz News (Bay Area California)
Awe-inspiring headline performance! - Steve Heckler / Chairman - Hot Summer Jazz Festival (Minneapolis, MN)
It's all there: Hard Bop, Traditional, & Contemporary. Beautiful. - Barnes & Noble
Ken & Harry Watters are brothers in the best sense of the word. Their CDs & live performances establish the Watters brothers as talents to watch! - PreAmp Music & Reviews
The 'Brothers' CDs are impressive, spirited & well performed by two talented voices in jazz. And who says there's no jazz from Alabama? - Jazz Online
In Ken is a soloist of major ability. His rich, burnished warmth on the trumpet & flugelhorn, not to mention the economy of his phrasing & spare strength of his musical ideas, remind one of Davis & Art Farmer. - The Buffalo News
The jazz world has no shortage of brother acts -- Tommy & Jimmy Dorsey, Nat & Cannonball, three Heaths, those Marsalis guys, and now we have the Watters brothers. Both of the brothers are technically accomplished musicians, and the jazz family has a welcome new addition in Ken & Harry Watters. - Glenn Astarita / All About Jazz / Downbeat Magazine
Both hornmen are technically assured with admirable command of their instruments. They seem to be having serious fun -- listeners are encouraged to join is, at least vicariously. - Cadence Magazine
Watters' subtle trombone works wonderfully well, making you really hear the instrument for the first time in a long time... - OffBeat Magazine (New Orleans)
Right on the money -- artistic approaches, rather than crass commercialism. The excellent 'Brothers' recordings feature some of today's finest young horn players (Ken & Harry Watters) in a variety of moods & playing styles. - Jazz Views (Adelaide, Australia)
Incredible display of contemporary mainstream jazz! - Jazz Friends Review
The Watters brothers are the real deal! Delightful! - Trumpet Players' International Network (TPIN)
Excellent playing (and writing) from two very talented brothers! - Mike Metheny / Trumpeter
2002 As a Co-Leader
2000 As a Co-Leader
2001 As a Co-Leader
2003 (Plus over 75 more recordings as a sideman with various artists of all musical genres)
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