Robert Watson

born August 23, 1953

Instrument alto sax
Birthplace Lawrence, KS

Available Leadsheets

Robert "Bobby" Watson, who was born and raised in Kansas City, Kansas, grew up to become a jazz saxophonist, composer, arranger and education of formidable talent and acclaim. He got his degree from the University of Miami before becoming a member (and later the musical director) of legendary drummer Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers. He remained an invaluable member for four years, from 1977 until 1981.

This position vaulted him head-first into relationships with many other notable artists, including drummers Max Roach and Louis Hayes, saxophonists George Coleman and Branford Marsalis, trumpeter Wynton Marsalis, and vocalists such as Joe Williams, Dianne Reeves, Lou Rawls, Betty Carter and Carmen Lundy. He has been a figurehead for the launch of multiple ensembles (both large and small) of critical acclaim, including the High Court Of Swing, the Tailor-Made Big Band, the 29th Street Saxophone Quartet, and an acoustic quintet called Horizon, with whom Watson recorded for the Blue Note and Columbia record labels from the mid-eighties to the mid-nineties. Watson has also made his name as an accomplished composer, with over twenty arrangements in print from Second Floor Music. He also wrote original music for the soundtrack of A Bronx Tale, Robert DeNiro's first film as a director.
Bobby Watson has also devoted a great portion of his career to education: he was a member of the adjunct faculty at William Patterson University from 1985-1986, and Manhattan School of Music for three years in the mid-late nineties. He returned from New York to his midwestern roots when he was approached by the University of Missouri-Kansas City with an offer of a full-time faculty position. He is now the UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance's Director of Jazz Studies. Learn more about Bobby Watson and follow current updates at