Bobby Watson, one of the most talented and quotable people in Kansas City, was featured in a Community Stories forum at the Black Archives on Thursday, June 30. Eighteen people heard Glenn North interview the saxophonist and educator. A few of Watson’s remarks follow.
The first song I played for the church was “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.” Everyone said “amen”- there wasn’t no applause. - on his first public performance as a child
A lot of brothers at that time weren’t playing jazz, they were playing funk. - on why he regularly performed with white musicians such as Gary Sivils, Paul Smith and Tommy Ruskin in the 1970s
It was like a real scary drive, even for me. It wasn’t happening. - on visiting the Jazz District in the 1970s
It was such a great feeling to leave a place knowing you hadn’t done anything wrong when the sun was coming up. - on spending an entire night jamming at the Mutual Musicians Foundation
Bob Brookmeyer is down- he’s passed away- but he’s still down. -on how the late trombonist excelled in jam sessions at the Mutual Musicians Foundation
Gerald Wilson told me that was the first song that used the word “swing.” - on Bennie Moten’s “Moten Swing”
We have this heavy church influence in this part of the country. - on the soulfulness of Kansas City jazz
His sound had such an aura of optimism and hope, and triumph over adversity. - on Charlie Parker
It’s my night, I’m doing them a favor by mentioning their names. - retort to North when asked to elaborate on the achievements of his protégés
They’re like a bad penny, they just keep turning up. - on the hustle of young Kansas City jazz musicians
People need to get with it, quickly. Stop being wrong, stop being prejudiced… you’re sitting on a gold mine here. - on opponents of additional city funding for the Jazz District
Watson performs at the Blue Room on Friday, July 8.
(Original image of the Black Archives by Plastic Sax.)