[Dixielandjazz] Benny Watters

Marek Boym marekboym at gmail.com
Mon Oct 11 14:57:43 PDT 2010

Because Watters had lived and played in France for many years, he was
virtually unknown.  I remember a Memphis Slim record with Benny
Watters, and everybody at first thought it was Benny Carter, and then
- very disappointed!
I was only much later that I discovered Watters - in Nice in either
1976 or 1977!  There was that little black saxophonist with sort of
pointed head that gave him a gnomic look (he only started wearing a
hat later), playing his ass off and competing with such as Buddy Tate,
Illinois Jacquet and Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis!
I brought the Watters gospel back to my friends here (one, Sylvain,
unfortunately now afflicted with multiple sclerosis, knew him, but
Sylvain came to Israel from Paris).

On 11 October 2010 17:08, Ken Mathieson <ken at kenmath.free-online.co.uk> wrote:
> Hi Steve et al,
> The Article posted by Steve about the Lincoln Centre Orchestra's visit to Cuba and, particularly, the comments about a bridge between jazz music and Cuban music being formed by Dizzy and Chano Pozo in the 1940s started some bells ringing.
> I used to work occasionally with Benny Watters when he visited Scotland in the 1970s and 80s and more frequently with a fine Scottish bassist and guitarist, Francis Cowan. Both are sadly no longer with us (Benny had a good long innings, but Francis's was sadly cut short in a traffic accident by a truck driver who fell asleep at the wheel), but I recall Francis recounting a conversation he had with Benny.
> He had asked what was hot in NYC when Benny first arrived from the Boston area - what did Benny go to hear once work was over - expecting to be regaled with tales of epic cutting contests in Harlem. Instead Benny said "we all went over to Spanish Harlem to hear the Puerto Rican bands. They were playing something very different." When Francis asked in what way was it different, Benny replied that it was way ahead of what was being played in New York dance halls and that the trumpet players played a way out style "like Dizzy Gillespie." When asked when this was, Benny said "around 1925."
> It might be anecdotal evidence, but it suggests that the bridge had been around a while before Dizzy and Chano got together. That could be an interesting research project: the story of Puerto Rican music in NYC and its impact on jazz.
> Regards,
> Ken Mathieson
> www.classicjazzorchestra.org.uk
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