ernie watts



June 5, 2004, Ike Willis, Ernie Watts and Napoleon Murphy Brock performed with the Burlington Discover Jazz Festival Big Band, performing an all-Zappa set.







the mothers: the grand wazoo
   (1972, lp, usa, bizarre)

  vinnie colaiuta, jimmy haslip, peter wolf, ernie watts: the royal dan (a tribute to the genius of steely dan)
    (2006, cd, usa,
tone center tc40472)

theroyaldan.jpg (27758 bytes)

  ernie watts quartet: a simple truth
    (2014, cd, usa, flying dolphin records)

ernie_watts_asimpletruth.jpg (30457 bytes)


born: oct 23, 1945 in norfolk, va

because he was involved in many commercial recording projects from the mid-'70s through the early '80s and on an occasional basis ever since, some observers wrote ernie watts off prematurely as a pop/r&b tenorman. actually watts' main hero has always been john coltrane and his more recent work reveals him to be an intense and masterful jazz improviser who has developed his own sheets of sound approach along with a distinctive and soulful sound. after attending berklee, he had an important stint with buddy rich's big band (1966-68)
before moving to los angeles. watts worked in the big bands of oliver nelson and gerald wilson, recorded with jean-luc ponty in 1969 and became a staff musician for nbc, performing with the tonight show band on a regular basis. his own records of the 1970s and early '80s were generally poppish (1982's chariots of fire was a big seller) and watts played frequently with lee ritenour and stanley clarke in addition to recording with cannonball adderley (one of his idols) in 1972. however ernie watts' work became much more interesting from a jazz standpoint starting in the mid-'80s when he joined charlie haden's quartet west and started recording no-nonsense quartet dates for jvc. ernie watts has developed into one of the most powerful of tenormen with complete control over his horn and the ability to bring intensity and passion (plus taste) to any musical situation. -- scott yanow

     chuck collazzi( sez:
ernie left la for colorado, i believe--or was it new mexico?   i saw him in florida a couple of years ago.  when he's not doing studio work in la he does clinics at colleges all over the country (world?).  the guy is a monster on the sax and a terrific guy (we worked the andy williams nbc show in 1971-2).

     from: "mark b. weber" (
ernie played in lee ritenour's band during the late 70's and early 80's. (lee had a band called lee ritenour's friendship which was also a direct to disc recording that featured ernie. i saw them live, i'll see if i have a good picture of ernie to post.

      from: fastfrank:  o{- (down@joes.garage) - date: 26 aug 2000
     subject: mr. watts goes to washington . . .
ernie watts (the original cletus awreetus-awrightus, funky emperor and way-hep grand wazoo megaphonist and tenor sax player) will be headlining sunday's jazz standards and blues day, part of this year's vancouver wine and jazz festival in vancouver, washington. please note that this is vancouver *wa,* which is directly north of portland, oregon -- just over the i-5 bridge in beautiful southwest washington state, and not that other vancouver farther up north in a different country. the festival takes place saturday and sunday, august 26 and 27, at esther short park, 8th and columbia streets.
 the ernie watts trio features skin-slapper ed shaughnessy, ivory-tickler mitchell foreman, cat-gut plucker bruce left, and of course the legendary cletus awreetus-awrightus tooting his mystery horn.

mr. watts -- who, as a young lad, wanted to play the trombone but was forced to take up the sax because his school's music department was all out of the bizarre slide-thingie operated instruments -- attended boston's berklee collage of music on a scholarship before moving to california to look for studio work. he was hired by doc severinsen to play in the tonight show orchestra, a job he kept while also doing studio work for everyone from fz to quincy jones. he has also toured with the rolling stones (now *there's* a guaranteed way of getting some leg for sure!), performed on movie soundtracks, and has taken home a couple of grammies for his solo work.
besides hearing a great bunch of musicians (saturday is hot latin jazz day, featuring cuban-born trumpeter arturo sandoval and his band ), there will be tons of food and wines from 34 wineries -- more than enough to cop a decent buzz, i'm sure.



(all credits are for saxophone unless otherwise noted)


frank zappa  / musicians timeline



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