Saxophonist-composer-producer-educator Bobby Watson is proud to release, Check Cashing Day, the second self-produced recording on Watson's label, Lafiya Music. The project, which honors the March on Washington's 50th anniversary and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s iconic "I Have A Dream" speech, is now available digitally (August 28, 2013) and will be released physically on November 12, 2013.
As Watson reflects, Check Cashing Day serves as "a commentary on where we've been, where we are, and where we need to go as a people, as a country, and as a global community." Instead of focusing on the iconic "I Have A Dream" aspect of Dr. King's speech, Watson chose to concentrate on another very significant part: the reason why over 300,000 people, black and white, gathered in Washington, D.C. on August 28, 1963. Dr. King spoke of coming to Washington to cash a 100 year old check, a moral check that the founding fathers wrote into the Declaration of Independence, but to this day, the check keeps coming back marked 'insufficient funds.' "This, being the year of my 60th birthday, I sadly understand that Dr. King's dream has not been fully realized and the struggle continues," says Watson.
Introducing poet and spoken word artist Glenn North from Kansas City, MO, Check Cashing Day is a concept recording with 15 tracks portrayed in the vein of musical theatre. "I asked Glenn to put some poetry, from his perspective, to several of my compositions, as well as one written by vocalist Pamela Baskin-Watson and two by bassist Curtis Lundy," comments Watson. "It was my desire with this project to produce poetry that would in some ways cleanse the soul," notes North. In addition, Watson's release features trumpeter Hermon Mehari, pianist Richard Johnson, drummer Eric Kennedy, flutist Horace Washington, and trombonist Karita Carter.
With Watson's commentary on the ongoing struggle of todays racial inequalities spotlighted on compositions such as the title track "Check Cashing Day (For Ms. Trudy)" and "MLK on Jazz (Love Transforms)," he offers a recording that provokes positive conversation and continued movement towards Dr. King's 'dream,' so that the 'dream' becomes a reality in today's world. "The result is something more powerful and thought provoking than I could have imagined," concludes Watson.
The first "William D. and Mary Grant/Missouri, Distinguished Professor in Jazz Studies at the UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance," saxophonist, composer, producer and educator, Bobby Watson grew up in Kansas City, Kansas and trained formally at the University of Miami studying with Dr. Clifton Williams, receiving a B.M. in Music Theory and Composition in 1975. After graduating, he proceeded to earn his "doctorate" - on the bandstand - as musical director of Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers from 1977-1981. In addition to his work as leader of the Grammy® Award-nominated quintet Horizon, Watson also led a group known as the High Court of Swing (a tribute to the music of Johnny Hodges), the Grammy® Award-nominated Tailor-Made Big Band, and is a founding member of the highly acclaimed 29th Street Saxophone Quartet. Watson also wrote original music for the sound track of Robert DeNiro's directorial debut "A Bronx Tale."
Since 2000 he has served as director of Jazz studies at UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance, and is also, currently Artistic Director for the Thelonious Monk Institute's "Jazz in America" Informance program, annually presenting dozens of informational concerts and jazz workshops around the nation. In 2010 Bobby released his self produced CD, "The Gates BBQ Suite" which went to #4 on the National Jazz airplay charts. In 2011, Bobby was inducted into the Kansas Music Hall of Fame and in 2013 he received the "Benny Golson Jazz Masters" award from Howard University. To date; Bobby has made 37 recordings as a leader and he appears on over 100 other recordings.