Tuesday 10 December 2019

Watts brings his sax appeal to the Sugar Club

Grainne Farren

Ernie Watts (tenor sax) – last heard in Ireland four years ago as part of Charlie Haden's Quartet West – will lead his own group in the Sugar Club on Thursday night.

Christof Sanger (piano), Rudi Engel (bass), Heinrich Koebberling (drums) are all from Germany and have been playing with the American saxophonist for some years.

Watts took his first saxophone lessons at 13. He won a scholarship to the Wilmington Music School, where he studied classical music.

His interest in jazz was sparked by listening to records of John Coltrane, and he went on to win a Downbeat Scholarship to the Berklee College of Music in Boston. His early career was spent in the bands of Buddy Rich, Oliver Nelson and Gerald Wilson. No doubt it was this big band experience that developed his robust tone and fiery solo style.

Settling in Los Angeles, Ernie Watts played in late-night jazz clubs as well as doing studio work.

He composed film and television scores, winning a Grammy for his music for the film Chariots of Fire in 1982. Soon afterwards he joined Charlie Haden's Liberation Orchestra and went on tour with Pat Metheny's Special Quartet. For some 25 years he has been a member of Haden's Quartet West, one of the most exciting highlights of the Cork Jazz Festival in 2010.

He also finds time to run Flying Dolphin Records in partnership with his wife Patricia; his latest CD on this label is Oasis (2011).

A 'warm-up' duo will play for the first half hour in the Sugar Club: Suzanne Savage (vocals, from Belfast) and Julien Colarossi (guitar, from Italy).

Tonight is the last night of the Bray Jazz Festival, featuring Dave Douglas and Uri Caine in the Mermaid at 8pm. The award-winning trumpet virtuoso has led numerous groups and has played with John Zorn, Anthony Braxton and Fred Hersch. The pianist is widely known as a soloist and composer, and has worked with Hank Mobley, Don Byron and Clark Terry.

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