For a man who came from the seed of Roger Waters -- one of Pink Floyd's founders and key songwriter -- Harry Waters has a humble attitude.
Before he began touring with his dad as part of his backing band in 2001, Waters, 34, spent many years honing his piano skills. He started at age 8 and fell in love with jazz in his early 20s. He plays a mellow, light swing style, rooted in early 1950s bebop. "It's very old-fashioned," he says in his quick, clipped British accent, enjoying a day off from touring with Dad in Los Angeles. "Kind of like very early modern jazz. Bill Evans, that kind of thing. There's nothing freaky or out-there about it."
Waters performs with his father on the elder's acclaimed reimagining of Pink Floyd's iconic 1979 double album The Wall. The younger Waters plays Hammond organ while his father takes the spotlight, singing most of the lyrics, the majority of which he had a hand in writing.
"I love the music," says the younger Waters. He is known to most fans as the little kid who says, "Look, mummy. There's an airplane up in the sky," before the triste ramble of an acoustic guitar during the opening of "Goodbye Blue Sky." "I've grown up with it, and it's a lot of fun," he continues. "I do enjoy playing the Hammond, and it's great music."
His father has made a reputation of being a tough character, and his departure from Pink Floyd involved a bitter legal battle with the other members. The Wall itself tells a grim story of the psychological pain of fame and growing up with a smothering mother and no father. The music is often grim, angry, and anguished. But the young Waters calls playing the album with his father "good, good fun."
He seems a well-adjusted, jovial fellow with a true passion for jazz. "When I heard Oscar Peterson for the first time, that just blew my mind," he recalls. "I was probably about 20 or 21; that was a real kind of revelation. That's when I went, 'Holy shit, I need to go out and buy this.'"
From then on, he became a devout student of the genre. On a few occasions between The Wall tour stops, the younger Waters finds time to host his own shows, in which he explores his passion with local musicians. Michael Sinisgalli, a South Florida-based saxophonist, joined Waters for one such show at Miami's Seventh Circuit Studios in 2010, a couple of days after a performance of The Wall at the BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise. "We had one little rehearsal that day, the day of, and Harry told me the tunes he wanted to play," said Sinisgalli describing their preshow preparation. "That's the beauty of being a jazz musician. You can put any guys together and you can do something. You don't even have to do a song. You can just improvise."
Sinisgalli has fond memories of the Miami show and looks forward to this upcoming performance. "Harry's cool," he says. "He's very low-key. He's very soft-spoken, and that definitely reflects in his style. He's not a flashy player. He likes to listen and pick his spots and have good timing."
"It was great," adds Waters with exuberance in his voice, when he recalls the show on November 15, 2010, which happened to fall on his birthday. "We had really good fun."
The Harry Waters Quartet is gearing up for another local performance in Fort Lauderdale at Revolution Live. The show will benefit Community Arts & Culture, a local charity helping at-risk children. Besides local musicians, including Bobby Lee Rodgers and the Spam Allstars, performers from his father's show will appear. There's Venice, a group from California who perform backing vocals during The Wall shows, as well the man who shares lead vocal duties with the elder Waters, Robbie Wycoff.
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Still no word if Dad will appear.
Harry Waters Quartet at 8 p.m. Monday, June 18, at Revolution Live, 100 SW Third Ave., Fort Lauderdale. Call 954-449-1025, or visit jointherevolution.net. Tickets cost $20 in advance and $25 at the door, plus fees via ticketmaster.com. All ages.