I discovered Dotsero about three years ago at the Jazz on the Vine Festival in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. I was not familiar with their music back then. I had heard of this Denver based group before, but I had never seen them perform, nor had I heard any of their music. As it turned out, they proved to be an unexpected surprise. I liked them so much that after the show, I picked up their current CD, Fresh Pants. I’ve been watching out for them ever since, so, when I went to their website (www.dotsero.org) and found this new release, I immediately purchased it from their online store.
The music on this CD is lively, engaging, and well played. It captures all the nuances of a live performance including the many audience adorations and shout outs. (We even get to hear guitarist Dave Watts tuning his guitar during some of the between song monologue.) It’s recorded at their own Denver club, Jazz @ Jacks’. From the up beat c-jazz tunes to the deep emotional ballads, this band gives it their all in every song. Dotsero is led by saxophone player, Stephen Watts and his brother, Dave Watts. Together, they lead the band through a selection of 10 of their previously recorded tunes. Since this is a live concert CD, you get to hear long, unedited versions of their songs. They also manage to throw in a surprise or two in the end.
“Just Because,” from the Fresh Pants CD, begins the show and features Stephen Watts on the saxophone, and also showcases Dave Watts playing a sweet electric guitar solo. On the next song, “Introduction to Jeepers Creepers,” we’re treated to an extended keyboard solo by Tom Capek, before the rest of the band kicks into the actual song. “Lighthouse in the Rockies” is almost like a lullaby. It’s a beautiful ballad, and one of my favorite tracks on this album. Again, Tom Capek provides a heartfelt solo, which is matched by Stephen Watts’ sax throughout the song. “Pacific Balcony” is a festive, party song with a carnival like vibe. “Someone Like You” gives us a little taste of Marvin Craft on bass. “Grandma’s Rocker,” from their Jubilee CD is another standout tune on this CD, as is “Lodo Mojo.” “Lodo Mojo” is clearly one of the band favorites, and the fun they have playing it is very well conveyed when listening to the CD. The band then plays an “Intro to Westchester Lady,” the Bob James classic, which, in reality, is a slammin’ four minute bass spectacular highlighting Marvin Craft. They then break into “Westchester Lady” adding the Dotsero flavor and making it their own. (“Westchester Lady” morphs into the familiar “Oye Como Va” before transforming back into “Westchester Lady” once more.)
Over the years, Dotsero has garnered a lot of critical acclaim for their music. The problem in music, as in film, is that critical acclaim is often another way of saying that you’ve made a really good, quality product, with a lot of talent involved, but it won’t reach a wide enough audience because it won’t be distributed in such a way to do that.
One of the things we try to do at Smoothviews is to encourage our readers to go beyond the limited play lists most smooth jazz radio stations use and let them know that there is a lot of good music out there if you take the time to find it. This is one worth searching for. If you’re a fan of Dotsero, you’ll love hearing the live versions of some of their musical catalog. If you’re new to the music of Dotsero, this is a good place to start. Once you hear their music, you’ll want to hear more. You’ll find yourself backtracking through their previous releases, and then eagerly awaiting the next new one.
- Mary Bentley