Bobby Watson era in Kansas City is almost over. The hometown hero transformed the area’s music scene soon after becoming the Director of Jazz Studies at the University of Missouri-Kansas City in 2000. He stepped down this year.
Watson shaped the sound of the city in his own sonic image through his persuasive personality and his astounding talent during his twenty-year tenure. The dominant sound on Kansas City’s jazz scene will continue to be a variation of the style he characterizes as post-Motown bop for the foreseeable future.
Watson was named the Plastic Sax Person of the Decade in 2009. He would have earned the same designation in 2019 even if he’d restricted his activities to teaching.
Yet he’s toured incessantly and made dozens of stellar local performances. Recent additions to his discography include Check Cashing Day (2013), Made in America (2017) and Bird at 101 (2019). One of his signature compositions is titled “In Case You Missed It,” but Watson’s profound impact on Kansas City is impossible to overlook.
(Original image of Watson by Plastic Sax.)