Transition was a very small and obscure jazz label for about two seconds in the mid-1950s but they did a couple of great jazz records and Watkins at Large is one of them. This is Watkins on bass as leader of a band consisting of Duke Jordan on piano, Arthur Taylor on drums, Kenny Burrell on guitar, Donald Byrd on trumpet and Hank Mobley on tenor sax.
Watkins plays a seven-foot Italian bass on tunes including his own “Panonica” and a 13-minute version of Tiomkin’s “Return to Paradise.” According to Tom Wilson, who produced the session and wrote the notes, “Watkins at Large is one of those rare sessions where everyone falls immediately into the groove from the opening minute. The result of such a ‘hang-upless’ date is freely constructed, intensely personal jazz without pretension or frills.” This is a record that is so impossibly rare that if Classic didn’t reissue it, then most people would never know of its existence.
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