The first album released by the "We Always Swing" Jazz Series: Soulful Serendipity, a live CD featuring the late pianist James Williams and saxophonist Bobby Watson in concert. The performance and recording, captured June 14, 2003, in Columbia, Mo., as a "House Concert" marks the ONLY time the two "middle generation" jazz greats performed solely as a duo in their respective illustrious careers that dates to their days with Art Blakey as Jazz Messengers.
The 77-minute CD is significant for many reasons. For starters, net proceeds from the sale of the limited edition 2,000-copy pressing is shared equally between the Jazz Series, which formally named its education program after Williams upon his July 20, 2004, passing, and UMKC Conservatory of Music, which Watson has directed since 1999.
"I know that James would be extremely pleased with the effort and the result," said Poses, noting that it was only after the pianist's passing that he and Watson agreed to even consider turning the recording into a finished product. Poses asked Watson to first revisit the setting - which consisted of two nearly 90-minute sets - to see if the saxophonist felt the music was representative of he and Williams. "When I decided to pursue and assemble this project it meant that I had to listen to the original masters from this recording many, many times. It was a very emotional experience for me," writes Watson who, along with others, contributed comments to the extensive liner notes for Soulful Serendipity.
Watson and Williams first met as Jazz Messengers in 1977 - their respective four-year stints with the legendary drummer virtually identical. During his stay, Williams participated in 10 Jazz Messengers recordings; Watson is, by most accounts, the all-time leader with 11 Messengers recording credits to his name.
The disc was mixed and mastered by award-winning engineer Bob Katz at his Orlando-based Digital Domain. Soulful Serendipity boasts a four-color, 20-page booklet designed by Lafiya Watson, the daughter of Watson and his wife, vocalist Pam Baskin-Watson, who contributes a reading of "Skylark" as a special guest.
In addition to Watson's and Baskin-Watson's heartfelt thoughts, Branford Marsalis, Pat Metheny, Marian McPartland and others close to Williams also contributed to the liner notes. "JW was beloved by many, many people. There are so many people in the jazz community who miss James." Poses says although this is not a memorial album for or a tribute album to Williams that he and Watson felt all the circumstances surrounding the concert warranted the release of Soulful Serendipity.