Biography All Music Guide
All Music Guide:
Julius Watkins was virtually the father of the jazz French horn. He started playing French horn at the age of nine, although he worked with the Ernie Fields orchestra on trumpet (1943-1946). In the late '40s, he took some French horn solos on records by Kenny Clarke and Babs Gonzales, and spent 1949 as a member of the Milt Buckner big band. After three years of study at the Manhattan School of Music, Watkins started appearing on small-group dates including a pair of notable sessions led by Thelonious Monk in 1953-1954. He co-led les Jazz Modes with Charlie Rouse in 1956-1959; toured with Quincy Jones' big band (1959-1961); did plenty of studio work (including the Miles Davis-Gil Evans collaborations); and recorded with Charles Mingus (in 1965 and 1971), Freddie Hubbard, John Coltrane (the Africa sessions), and the Jazz Composer's Orchestra, among many others.