Gene Watts is the original creator behind the Canadian Brass. When the idea came to him in 1970, he had already carved out an orchestral career with orchestras in North Carolina, San Antonio and Milwaukee.
Gene came to Toronto when he was hand-picked by Seiji Ozawa as first trombonist for the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. Soon he met Chuck Daellenbach (tuba) and the two set out to create a new model for brass quintets, which has been widely emulated but not yet matched.
Gene’s life is steeped in music. He grew up in a musical family in Sedalia, Missouri, where he listened to mostly dance bands and sat in with local jazz groups. He financed his music studies at the University of Missouri in Columbia with his Dixieland band, the Missouri Mudcats.
Gene further developed his lucid, elegant style during studies at the New England Conservatory in Boston, and his love for music expanded from baroque and classical to the newest sounds in concert music and jazz. His alma mater recently awarded him an honorary doctorate in music.
The Watts philosophy of music has guided the Canadian Brass for over 30 years. His intuition often shapes the group’s repertoire, and on stage his quick wit plays off Chuck’s as they work the microphones to the delight of audiences.
Gene shares his life-long interest in meditation with the group, keeping down stress levels through months of touring. He lives in Toronto with film maker Barbara Sweete.