A member of Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers from 1976 to 1981 and their musical director for two years, Bobby Watson is known for his spectacular and tricky technique on the alto saxophone. Hailing from Kansas City, Charlie Parker's birthplace, he rushed onto the neo-bop scene of the early 80s like a whirlwind and quickly grew into a symbol figure for the rebirth of modern mainstream jazz. When Watson graduated from Blakey's 'University of Bop,' he was ready to do his own thing, founded a new label, started his own quartet and joined the 29th Street Saxophone Quartet as their leading voice. At that time of adventure, he also performed the concert documented on "Advance."
Bobby Watson's wizardry as an unaccompanied player can easily be detected in the intro parts to his original compositions "Karita" and "E.T.A." which have also found their way into the books of Blakey and the Twenty-Niners. Even on Monk's classic ballad "Round Midnight" the altoist displays his very personal and humorous approach without neglecting the tune's deep-felt emotionality. On Eubie Blake's handsome "You're Lucky To Me" Watson's All-American quartet is joined by a conga player to give this old tune a nice and nostalgic rendition. With Watson featured as the overwhelming saxophone magician he is, "Advance" is definitely a highlight in the saxplayer's discography.