Kim Waters has always had a way of captivating his fans with his infectious melodies and outstanding showmanship. On his new CD, 'This Heart of Mine', he again harnesses his hallmark vibe by putting out another set of grooves that his fans will absolutely love. Each track is beautifully arranged, and compliments Waters undoubted talent as the 'King of Smooth Urban Jazz'.
JazzReview: How did you get started in the music industry?
Kim Waters: I started when I was young, around seven or eight years old, on the violin and I switched to the saxophone when I was around eleven. From there, as teenagers, me and my brothers had a band and traveled up and down the east coast performing at a lot of hotels as well as in Atlanta City. We became pretty popular. When I was about nineteen, I moved to New York and became a session player on a lot of people's records. Before I knew it I had a record deal.
JazzReview: So at this point you broke away from the family and began to play solo?
Kim Waters: No, we actually continued playing together and were booked to play in North New Jerseyat a casino which was at that time was called the Playboy Casino. We were booked as the house band and played there for quite a few years. We literally moved toNew York and on our times away from playing the casinos we played sessions inNew York together.
JazzReview: You began playing the violin at an early age so was there reason for switching from the violin to the saxophone?
Kim Waters: Well, actually, I like the violin but when I started playing everyone was teasing me in the neighborhood for playing the violin so I switched to the sax and the rest is history.
JazzReview: I know we talked briefly about it but what were your early musical experiences and the education behind those musical experiences?
Kim Waters: I was fortunate to live near one of the great jazz pianists. By the time I was twelve or thirteen he would literally take me to the clubs where he played at. This guy played with all the greats from Dexter Gordon to Charley Parker. He really got me into learning the traditional jazz stuff as well as the contemporary stuff. It was a great opportunity to have someone like that to take me to the clubs. There was also a great saxophone player in Baltimore by the name of Mickey Fields and he took me under his wings when I was about fifteen. He would play at the clubs and before the end of the night he would say "alright let the kid play for the rest of the night". That's how I got into the music scene.
JazzReview: Which reed or vibes players, arrangers or leaders influenced you the most?
Kim Waters: I guess by main influences for saxophone was Parker, Cannonball Adderley and John Coltrane. As far as contemporary players are concerned it would definitely be Grover Washington, David Sanborn, and Stanley Turrentine who was a good friend of mine. Those guys really paved the way for all of us.
JazzReview: What is the most interesting part of your life as a musician?
Kim Waters: The most interesting part is when you are on stage and the people are there and they are smiling and you know you have to smile as well, even if you have had a hard week or hard day. When they come to the show that's their way of letting loose and enjoying the music. When your music is making them happy then it's a great feeling.
JazzReview: Do you find it different playing here in the United Statesas opposed to going overseas? Do you find the audiences different?
Kim Waters: Well you know some audiences are different from others. In certain places in Europe you'll find that the audience they won't clap until at the end of the show. But at the end of the show you'll get a standing ovation for about ten minutes. Then here in the states it's a party at every show. Everybody's going crazy after every song.
JazzReview: It's been almost two years since we heard from you so it's good to hear from you again. Your new CD 'This Heart of Mine' is absolutely wonderful. The opener 'Heart Seeker' has a soulful sound which to me sets the tone. You have also included 'Empire State of Mind' and I understand your wife is featured on the song. When you are planning a CD such as this how do you decide what songs to write or record?
Kim Waters: For this CD I wanted to take my time and sit in the studio and vibe on my own. The whole CD is pretty much me. As far as the covers I try to take the songs that were hot during that year and of course 'Empire State of Mind' was one of those. The R Kelly hit 'Love Letter' was another. I try to do a set on them and make them a little different. Hopefully they will do well.
JazzReview: Sometimes you hear an album and you begin to pick which track you like best. When I did that for this CD it was every one of the tracks.
Kim Waters: Everyone says that. I'm just grateful that people appreciate it, that the CD is warming to their ears and that they will come out to the live show.
JazzReview: I have an opportunity meet a lot of young musicians and interview them. Do you have any tips for a young musician who wants to start a career in the music industry?
Kim Waters: I think the main thing for a young saxophone player coming up is don't just start with someone like me or Gerald Albright as your main influence. Go back and study the history. Learn from Cannonball Adderley, from Coltrane, Sonny Stitt, Lester Young and people like that. That's where it all comes from. If you can play that stuff then the contemporary thing is going to be so easy.
JazzReview: That's such good advice. Our young musicians do just as you say. They don't go back in history. Even though the players they are imitating are excellent they just don't go back to study the history.
Kim Waters: Yes, I agree.
JazzReview: I understand that on 'This Heart of Mine' you play every instrument from the sax to the keyboard, to the drums to the guitar, bass and the vocals. How did you do all that?
Kim Waters: I guess that's the benefit of having your own studio. You can take your time and get it right. That's just what I did. I studied all those instruments coming up. You have to take some of those courses in college where you study a little bit of every instrument. I just studied them all. I am just glad to be blessed to play an instrument and make it sound the way it's supposed to sound.
JazzReview: You have a flare for composing very seductive melodies. Are these expressions of love or experience or messages of love to your audience?
Kim Waters: I think most of them are messages. We are very close knit as a family and of course love is a big factor of that. It goes hand in hand. It's like a friend says, if it works don't try to do something else.
JazzReview: You have been known as the 'king of smooth urban jazz' but I understand you can also stand up to any one when playing straight ahead jazz.
Kim Waters: Well, I guess they gave me that title and I appreciate it. I just want to do good music. I think it's both good and bad to put music in a category. When my first CD came out there was no such thing as smooth jazz. My CDs have played on jazz radio and they have also played on R&B stations. Once they start categorizing you, it places you into one track or program. My CDs are meant for everybody and my biggest audiences from the mid 80's up until now have been fans of both R&B and jazz. I want people to listen to the music and say it's a great CD, not to try to put it into any category.
JazzReview: What lies ahead for you, both with short term or long term projects?
Kim Waters: I have been approached to do some acting. People have always asked me about it, they say I have that look. I don't know if will be able to remember the lines. A couple of guys have asked to represent me. I'll think about it more when I return fromLondon.
JazzReview: What is your aspiration at this point in time?
Kim Waters: I just want to stay consistent and help my daughters in the right direction in music, to live life and be happy.
JazzReview: Thank you so much Kim Waters for an excellent interview