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Building on the classics, with the Doc Watkins Trio

Doc Watkins at the piano.
David Teran
Doc Watkins at the piano.

Music from the Duke Ellington songbook, plus tunes by Henry Mancini and George Gershwin, make up the set on this edition of “Live at Jazz, TX” featuring the Doc Watkins Trio, recorded in 2018. There’s an easy swing to all of the numbers, including “Corcovado,” by Antonio Carlos Jobim. But wait, isn’t that a bossa nova tune? Doc Watkins and his bandmates have a different take:

“That's one of those things where you start with an idea and then as you tweak it and as you make it work for you, and your particular setting, by the time you get to the end result, it's almost unrecognizable from where you started,” Watkins said.

Pointing out that even Jobim stretched the form of the bossa nova late in his career, Watkins continued, “I think that part of the nature of the mind of an artist is they're constantly messing with stuff. They're trying to improve upon it, they're trying to change it, they're trying to get unstuck. You know, if they're playing a song the same way for 20 years, sometimes you can kind of feel stuck and you need to do something to get out of that rut. And so these songs by nature change over time.”

Listen to the full show in the Soundcloud link below, or tune to “Live At Jazz, TX” Saturday nights at 7:00 on Texas Public Radio.