Ernie Watts clearly intends To the Point, the fourth release by his quartet on his own Flying Dolphin label (following Alive, Spirit Song, and Analog Man), to be a statement of purpose, as he explains in an introductory comment that gets its own track listing, "Intro/Music Statement." Setting up the album's title tune, Watts notes that he has gotten in his career "to the point" that he no longer is trying to emulate his influences, whom he names as Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, and Thelonious Monk, but now must be his own man. It's an appropriate expression from a musician who was 61 years old when he made it, at the Jazz Bakery in Los Angeles, CA, in August 2007, as his shows were recorded for this album. But it also serves as a sort of advance disclaimer for what turns out to be the most Coltrane-like performance of the set. "To the Point" is an uptempo number that gives Watts the opportunity to unleash some of his most soaring solo work, playing that is very much in the Coltrane mold. It is the longest of seven long pieces that, whether ballads like "Season of Change" or blues tunes like "Road Shoes," give his sidemen, pianist David Witham, bassist Bruce Lett, and drummer Bob Leatherbarrow, plenty of time to solo too. Watts pays tribute to the late Michael Brecker, a contemporary to whom he was often compared, on "For Michael," which seems to evoke Charles Mingus' tribute to Lester Young, "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat," deliberately. Here, and elsewhere, he attempts to merge a contemporary sensibility and an individual performing style with an established tradition of which he feels a part, and he does so largely successfully.