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CD Recording Projects 

FOUR: FOURway Stop

Recorded in June 2012 and released by Jazz Hang Records for FOUR's tour of Iceland, Scotland, Germany, and Luxembourg. It will be released nationally in 2013.

FOURway Stop CD Cover, four saxophones converging on a fourway stop intersection screeching

FOURway Stop CD backtray, photo of performers, track listings

All music written or arranged by Mark Watkins

Tracks

The Revival (5:52)
Snakes (6:58)
Tenor Madness (4:41)
Tuesday Wonderland (6:38)
Ornithology (4:10)
FOURway Stop (5:53)
Lullaby for Amy (7:10)
Freer ör Edgier (5:59)
Linus and Lucy (3:35)
The Getaway (6:26)

BYU–Idaho Faculty Jazz Ensemble: On the Other Hand

Recorded in June 2008.  This CD was released as a short run to be sold at concerts. It is sold out. The ensemble is now called Out of Nowhere and is scheduled to record a new CD for label in June, 2013.

Faculty Jazz CD Cover

Mark Watkins, saxophones

Ryan Nielsen, trumpet

Corey Christiansen, guitar

Justin Nielsen, piano

Aaron Miller, bass

Jay Lawrence, drums

Tracks

Driftin' (5:57)
When Will the Blues Leave (6:34)
Observation (6:49) Ryan Nielsen
Shout (5:43) Jay Lawrence
Stella by Starlight (11:41)
On the Other Hand (8:31) Mark Watkins
Alone Together (8:10)
Naima (6:12) Arr. Justin Nielsen

FOUR: On a Warm Summer's Evenin'

Recorded in June 2008.  Released for their Asia tour in July 2009, this CD was released nationally by Jazz Hang Records in the fall of 2010. In addition to the musicians listed below, the music faculty from BYU–Idaho performed the symphony orchestra and band. 

Green gardens, boulder and bridge
track listings, label info
All music written or arranged by Mark Watkins

Tracks

Three Contemplations: A Concerto for Saxophone Quartet and Concert Band

     With Friends Like These (5:36)

     Of Things Hoped For (4:36)

     Felices para siempre (4:29)

Moment's Notice (5:45)
Sunset in Sperlonga (6:55)
Chim Chim Cheree (5:50)
Jack the Giant Killer (5:27)
Kayamjen (2:57)
Peas in a Pod (4:48)
My Funny Valentine (5:05)
On the Other Hand (6:23)
On a Warm Summer's Evenin' (7:42

Reviews

From the downbeat, the screaming-hot, new release from FOUR, "On a Warm Summer's Evening” is fat-city! Too hip for hep-cats, too cool for the fans and readily accessible to anyone who is impressed with virtuoso execution all shown up with ferociously-delicious arrangements.  Lush and interesting in it's soulful melancholy one minute and you're swept away by a "Manteca-ish" groove the next.  Could this be "Supersax" re-inventing themselves after entering the witness protection program?  How did this happen? Then again, who cares?  These cats are dazzling in every way!  From the Mingus-styled moments of collective improvisation interwoven with tightly executed parts; you never know what's coming next and, like Beethoven, it's always the perfect thing that follows. Sometimes it's a ballad and sometimes it's picture perfect, straight-ahead, swinging jazz.

If I have one complaint, it's this - more fast stuff.  I got hooked on the first 3 tunes and was jonesin' for more up-tempo tunes.  I need my Mark Watkins bop-fix!  This is great jazz from start to finish - beautiful, intelligent, soulful, swinging and all done with the highest caliber of performance. Congratulations guys, this is sublime. (Noah Peterson, Peterson entertainment, LLC; KPSU Radio Portland)

 

For those of us who enjoy a lifelong love affair with the saxophone, any opportunity to indulge in the warmth, beauty, power, and agility produced by masterful saxophonists is most welcome. Throughout On A Warm Summer’s Evenin’, Mark Watkins, Brent Jensen, Sandon Mayhew, and Jon Gudmundson, seamlessly harness the musical energy of the saxophone in settings ranging from quartet to orchestra with comfort and elegance. On this CD, FOUR engages listeners via effortlessly skillful execution of concrete and improvised musical ideas that produce a diverse, vivid, and enjoyable performance.

Soprano saxophonist, composer, and arranger Mark Watkins creates frameworks that excite, indulge, and challenge the musicians and listeners alike.  Exploring a wide scope of articulations, rhythms, and melodic and harmonic structures, Watkins establishes and develops a driving contrapuntal conversation between and within the quartet and jazz ensemble throughout With Friends Like These. Featuring the alto of Brent Jensen, Of Things Hoped For showcases the romantic nature of the saxophone as a solo and ensemble instrument in a traditional jazz setting. Illustrating their musical diversity, Watkins’ Felices Para Siempre takes us on a clave-fueled ride while his arrangements of Moment’s Notice, Chim Chim Cheree, and his Sunset in Sperlonga showcase FOUR’s jazz roots.

Beyond their diversity and flawless ensemble work, two of the most appealing dimensions of FOUR’s offering are Watkins’ pen and the virtuosity of each individual. Watkins’ diversified, fresh, and engaging writing results in new discoveries with every listen. As individuals, all FOUR deliver stirring descargas on Felices, Watkins swings and weaves improvised tapestries in his On the Other Hand and on A Warm Summer’s Evenin’, Mayhew burns on Moment’s Notice and Jack the Giant Killer, Jensen charms on Of Things Hoped For and Sunset in Sperlonga, and Gudmundson excites with contagious and bluesy energy on Chim Chim Cheree and Peas in a Pod.

Supported by rock-solid jazz and orchestra ensembles, On a Warm Summer’s Evenin’ is a celebration of diverse musical styles by an inventive writer and FOUR outstanding saxophonists who are as equally at ease unselfishly serving the demands of an ensemble as they are navigating the rigors of solo duties. To all involved, thank you for the music and the artistry. Godspeed FOUR. (Ed Calle, Miami Saxophone Quartet, two time Grammy nominee)

FOUR: With Friends Like These

FOUR CD Cover Art
 FOUR CD Back Tray

Tracks

May Favorite Things (3:48)
Snakes (6:53)
Hot House/What is This Thing Called Love? (3:05)
Of Things Hoped For (4:22)
Dr. Brother's Music Box (4:18)
There Will Never Be Another You (3:26)
My Funny Valentine (4:38)
Chim Chim Cheree (4:17)
The House That My Father Built (4:45)
Requiem (5:10)
Vanilla Cream Soda (3:56)
Come What May (4:32)
All Blues (10:30)
With Friends Like These (5:23)

Reviews

Bravo! Jean-Marie Londeix, Bordeaux Conservatory of Music, France. (World Saxophone Congress, Jlubljana, Slovenia)

 

"...strong writing and solos, coupled with rhythmically solid ensemble playing and lots of energy to spare." (Saxophone Journal, JanFeb 2007, Vol. 31, No. 3, p. 47)

 

"...an enjoyable listen…strong writing and solos, coupled with rhythmically solid ensemble playing and lots of energy to spare.” (Cadence Magazine, July 2007, pp. 104-105)

Swingset: My Favorite Things

Swingset CD Cover Art
Swingset CD Back Tray 
All Music written or arranged by Mark Watkins

Tracks

I Mean You (6:50)
My Favorite Things (4:27)
You'd Be So Nice To Come Home To (5:13)
Doctor Brother's Music Box (6:06)
Shaker Song (4:43)
All Blues (10:24)
On the Sunny Side of the Street (5:29)
Of Things Hoped For (4:37)
Ain't No Sunshine (5:16)
Donna Lee/Back Home Again in Indiana (5:43)
Reviews

"I like Swingset’s arrangements and their blend of instrumentation." (Danny Beher, Sea Breese Jazz Records, Glendale, California)

 
“Creative, energetic, great arrangements…!” (Lars Yorgason, Vice-President, Jazz of the MountainWest; Board of Directors, American Federation of Musicians Local 104, Salt Lake City, Utah)

 

"…fresh arrangements … " (Tom Walsh, Professor of Music, Indiana University; Instructor, Jamey Aebersold Summer Jazz Workshop)

 

“I enjoyed listening to Swingset.  Their arrangements are inventive and their performance exuberant and energetic.” (Ray Smith, Director of Jazz Studies, Brigham Young University (Provo, Utah); Director of the critically acclaimed jazz ensemble “Synthesis”, Director of the National Jazz Educator’s Reading Band, Wisconsin)

 

“Good soloing, I particularly liked the soprano and alto work as it plays off of the melodic structure of the tune which, to me, is much more rewarding than pattern work. [Regarding ensemble] there is a fresh approach to things like rhythm, harmonies, etc.” (Darren Bradford, #1 Studio Call Musician–Woodwinds, Salt Lake City; former Co-Principle Clarinet, Mexico City Philharmonic.  Saxophone, Utah Symphony)

Hard-Bop Saxophone Quartet: Don't Step On Your Neck

HBSQ CD Cover Art
HBSQ CD Back Tray 

Tracks

Mercy, Mercy, Mercy (5:46) Arr. Russ Peterson
On a Warm Summer's Evenin' (7:51) Mark Watkins
I'm Free (3:37) Russ Peterson
You're the One (4:16) Russ Peterson
Ornithology (4:04) Arr. Mark Watkins
The Revival (5:37) Mark Watkins
Don't Step On Your Neck (5:46) Mark Watkins
La Fiesta (4:19) Arr. Paul Liversage
Lullaby for Amy (9:30) Mark Watkins
Jack the Giant Killer (4:41) Mark Watkins
Blue Bossa (4:38) Arr. Russ Peterson
Christening Blues (5:26) Russ Peterson

Reviews

"...Offers a delightful variety of timbres, groupings and styles...perfectly executing intense, no-nonsense jazz charts....employing clever, inventive arrangements, and many of the improvised solos...soar."  (Jazz Times 5/00, p.194)

 

Despite its name, The Hard-Bop Saxophone Quartet performs in a variety of jazz styles, not just hard-bop. Hailing from Fargo, North Dakota, the group is at its best at its quirkiest, particularly when performing some of the highly original arrangements of its members. While the individual players (Mark Watkins, Russ Peterson, Paul Liversdage, and Harvey Sommerfield) are not well known, they manage to create some fascinating music in a variety of genres, ranging from the funky "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy" to the off-beat rendering of Kenny Dorham's "Blue Bossa." Capable of a big orchestral sound, and a touch of humor…there are some fine and even unique moments here, presaging the potential for greater things to come. Watkins and Peterson, in particular, contribute some fine improvisations. ~ (Steven A. Loewy, All Music Guide) 

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