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Marzette Watts and Company

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Audio CD, April 24, 2012
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (April 24, 2012)
  • Original Release Date: 2012
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: ESP Disk, Ltd.
  • ASIN: B007C7FDU6
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #423,320 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

The Alabama born saxophonist/clarinetist had a short lived career as a member of the sixties avant-garde but achieved legendary status for the company he kept in his Cooper Square loft where the likes of Ornette Coleman, Cecil Taylor, Don Cherry, Archie Shepp, and Pharoah Sanders often congregated. This debut date is best known for the presence of players, who like Watts, were to become renowned for the rareness of their recorded output, including Sonny Sharrock, Byard Lancaster, Clifford Thornton, Karl Berger and Henry Grimes.


The music and life of painter, multi-instrumentalist, soundtrack
composer, experimental filmmaker, audio engineer and political
activist Marzette Watts remains largely unknown to most people. . .
Thanks to the ESP label, though, Watts debut, Marzette Watts &
Company, has been remastered and reissued on compact disc and also
high-quality digital download. This review refers to the CD version,
which has new liner notes and photos.

Like most if not all ESP records, Marzette Watts & Company takes some
time to appreciate and most likely will be enjoyed by fans of
likeminded artists such as Albert Ayler, Julius Hemphill and Sonny
Simmons. If not already an enthusiast of the avant-garde jazz idiom,
this album probably won't change your mind. That said, Watts'
three-track, 37-minute outing has a stellar line-up and intriguing
moments which confirm that revolution was in the air at the time this
1966 recording was made. Alongside Watts (who plays tenor and soprano
sax and bass clarinet) is Byard Lancaster (who adds alto sax, flute
and also bass clarinet), guitarist Sonny Sharrock, vibraphonist Karl
Berger, bassist Henry Grimes (Juni Booth takes the bass on the final
track), Clifford Thornton (trombone and cornet) and holding everything
steady is drummer J.C. Moses. --Audiophile Audition, Doug Simpson

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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Shemp-Masta-Flash on May 21, 2012
Format: Audio CD
ESP-Disk was a NYC-based independent label that in its short existence (1964-1974) released platters few if any of the major labels would consider touching: readings by Timothy Leary and William S. Burroughs, avant-garde jazz by Albert Ayler, Marion Brown, and Pharaoh Sanders [his debut!], underground rock by the Fugs, Godz, and Pearls Before Swine, and more. In `05 the label was revived by founder Bernard Stollman and old and new product hit the shelves.

Multi-reeds player Marzette Watts (1938-1998) was never close to the big time and is barely known outside of free jazz circles--but he made powerful music that stands the test of time. "Company" is not an "easy" listen, even by my copiously warped standards. "Company" is a fiery blow-out, a free-form blitz guaranteed to induce seizures in Tea Partiers and Kenny G fans. Melody and harmony are for the most part beside-the-point but the whip-smart playing of drummer J.C. Moses, who had an extensive background in more straight-ahead jazz, is the cosmic glue holding this session together. Also, vibes player Karl Berger has some luminously lyrical passages. A major reason to celebrate this disc's return to the marketplace is the sublimely raucous guitar of Sonny Sharrock, perhaps the first player to apply Coltrane/Ayler levels of "free" to electric six-strings. "Company" is an uncompromising trip full of haunting, anguished's a little dated and the nonstop ragged fury can get a little numbing (as I said: depending on yr mood), but it's still compelling and frequently cathartic. Not a disc for the free jazz neophyte but for the devotees of free jazz (especially of the mid-1960s): Essential.
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