Julius Watkins

Julius Watkins (October 10, 1921 April 4, 1977) was an American jazz musician, and one of the first French horn players in jazz.[1] He won the Down Beat critics poll in 1960 and 1961 for "miscellaneous instrument" with French horn named as the instrument.

Watkins was born in Detroit, Michigan. He began playing the French horn when he was nine years old, having played the trumpet, the recognized jazz instrument, for the Ernie Fields Orchestra in the mid-1940s. By the late 1940s, however, he had played some French horn solos on Kenny Clarke and Babs Gonzales' records. After moving to New York City, Watkins studied for three years at the Manhattan School of Music. He started appearing in small-group jazz sessions, including two led by Thelonious Monk, featuring on "Friday the 13th" on the album Thelonious Monk and Sonny Rollins (1954).

Watkins recorded with numerous jazz musicians, including John Coltrane, Freddie Hubbard, Charles Mingus, Miles Davis and Gil Evans, Phil Woods, Clark Terry, Johnny Griffin, Randy Weston, and with the Jazz Composer's Orchestra. He co-led, with Charlie Rouse, the group Les Jazz Modes from 1956 to 1959, and he toured with Quincy Jones and his band from 1959 to 1961.

He died in Short Hills, New Jersey at the age of 55. From 1994 to 1998, an annual "Julius Watkins Jazz Horn Festival" was held in New York, beginning at the Knitting Factory, (NY Times, January 27, 1994, "A One-Night French Horn Festival") honoring his legacy. After an eleven-year break, another "Julius Watkins Festival" was held on October 3, 2009, in Seattle, Washington, at Cornish College of the Arts. On September 29, 2012, the most recent (7th) Julius Watkins Jazz Horn Festival was held at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia.


As leader/co-leader

With Charlie Rouse as Les Jazz Modes/The Jazz Modes

With Jazz Contemporaries (George Coleman, Clifford Jordan, Harold Mabern, Larry Ridley, Keno Duke)

As sideman

With Manny Albam

With Benny Bailey

With Art Blakey

With Kenny Burrell

With Billy Byers

With Donald Byrd

With John Coltrane

With Tadd Dameron

With Miles Davis

With Billy Eckstein

With Gil Evans

With Art Farmer

With Curtis Fuller and Hampton Hawes

With Dizzy Gillespie

With Benny Golson

With Johnny Griffin

With Gigi Gryce

With Jimmy Heath

With Freddie Hubbard

With Milt Jackson

With the The Jazz Composer's Orchestra

With Quincy Jones

With Thad Jones and Mel Lewis

With Beverly Kenney

With Stan Kenton

With Roland Kirk

With Michel Legrand

With the Manhattan Jazz All-Stars

With Herbie Mann

With Cal Massey

With Mat Mathews

With Charles McPherson

With Gil Mellé

With Charles Mingus

With Blue Mitchell

With Thelonious Monk

With David Newman

With Oliver Nelson

With Chico O'Farrill

With Oscar Peterson

With Oscar Pettiford

With Johnny Richards

With the Riverside Jazz Stars

With Pete Rugolo

With Pharoah Sanders

With George Shearing

With Warren Smith

With Les Spann

With Billy Taylor

With Clark Terry

With McCoy Tyner

With Randy Weston

With Art Webb

With Mary Lou Williams

With Phil Woods


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