(born July 5, 1955) is an US-American jazz pianist and composer living in Paris.
After absolving his studies at the Oberlin Conservatory Watson moved to Paris as accompanist of a dance company. In 1982 he recorded a first trio recording with Paul Motian and Ed Schuller („Conspiracy“) followed by two solo albums. Since then he worked in a long-time duo with doublebass player John Lindberg which became extended with Albert Mangelsdorff and Ed Thigpen. Watson also worked with Steve Lacy, with Linda Sharock and with Joëlle Léandre („Palimpseste“, 1991). His Trio with Mark Dresser and Ed Thigpen („Silent Hearts“, 1998) was the basis for the „Full Metal Quartets“ (1999/2000) with saxophone player Bennie Wallace. His solo piano recording „Sketches of Solitude“ (2002) became one of the best-selling jazz albums in France. In 2003 and 2005 he toured in Europa, Asia, and Australia with Christof Lauer.
His dance score „The Peking Ballet“ was commissioned by Radio City Music Hall and seen by 200,000 people during the summer of 1984, while multi-concert series of his music have been presented by the Lyon Opera and the State Theater in Poitiers. His numerous commissions include „Martial Arts“ (1986) written for Martial Solal and the Orchestre National de Jazz (French National Jazz Orchestra) and „Bénévoles“, written for the Australian violinist Jane Peters.
In 2001, Watson was appointed artistic director of La Villette Jazz Festival, and musical consultant to the director of the Cité de la Musique, Laurent Bayle. In 2003 he was appointed as a „Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres“.