The Marzette Watts Ensemble: Marzette Watts and Company

Here's the part of jazz history that guys like Ken Burns never told anyone about ... the angsty side.

The Marzette Watts Ensemble

Marzette Watts and Company

Label: ESP Disk
US Release Date: 2012-04-24
UK Release Date: 2012-07-23
Label website

Marzette Watts was caught in the very middle of the civil unrest of 1960s America. As a musician, painter, college student, member of a nonviolent college campus group in the south and a bohemian taking refuge in New York City, Watts struggled to belong somewhere. The music of Marzette Watts & Company reflects this turmoil and the list of soon-to-be-famous names accompanying him on the album suggests that misery loved company.

Clifford Thornton blows his trombone like an elephant with a hernia. Saxophonist Byard Lancaster, vibraphonist Karl Berger, bassists Juni Booth and Henry Grimes and drummer J.C. Moses contribute to the angry and confused mess. Most startlingly of all is the shocking guitar style of Sonny Sharrock in 1966, which was a world that had not yet been torched by the likes of Hendrix. Sharrock gives the impression that he is possessed, playing in tongues, if you will. Half these musicians have passed on, but their "Backdrop for Urban Revolution" continues to stay in motion, thanks to gut-punching artifacts like this one.

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