Kobie Watkins: Involved (2009)
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Perhaps the title to drummer Kobie Watkins' debut, Involved
, makes reference to the Chicago native's involvement with some of the highest profile jazz artists around. A regular in the bands of saxophonist Sonny Rollins
, guitarist Bobby Broom
, and vocalist Kurt Elling
, Watkins has proven himself a stand-out accompanist, possessing a confident blend of fire and sensitivity. With a slew of fellow Chicagoans, including Broom, trumpeter Pharez Whitted
, and saxophonist Geof Bradfield
, Watkins blends straight-ahead blowing and unabashed funk to create an energized set of groove-heavy jazz.
Thoughtful covers of Stevie Wonder
's "Taboo To Love" and Kenny Dorham
's "Short Story," featuring a blistering solo by Whitted, sit well with original compositions by Watkins, saxophonist Jarrard Harris
, pianist Ryan Cohen
, and producer Harold Mims. Watkins' "Expressions" and "Sonny Like" contain clever themes with infectious, multi-layered rhythms. The leader's two other tunes on the disc, "Affectious" and "Movin' On," feature the same qualities with a more laidback vibe due in part to Harris's mellow soprano saxophone.
While Watkins' drumming is not the front-and-center focus of the disc, his dominating presence is undeniable on the up-tempo burners "Spastic" and "Third Pew." The latter is a gospel-meets-bebop rampage featuring Whitted, trombonist Terris Ransom, and pianist/organist James Austin
. Mim's odd-metered, Afro-Cuban influenced "Congo" showcases the multi-faceted drummer's fearless approach to polyphonic exploration.
With a release as stunning as Involvedalong with a recent relocation to New YorkWatkins is likely to further his appeal as a drummer and composer worthy of wide recognition.
Track Listing: Spastic; Expressions; Sonny Like; Taboo To Love; Congo; Gentle Souls; Short Story; Affectious; Third Pew; Movin' On.
Personnel: Kobie Watkins: drums, percussion; Geof Bradfield: saxophone (3, 5, 6, 7, 9); Jarrard Harris: saxophone (1, 8, 10); Pharez Whitted: trumpet (3, 5, 7, 9); Terris Ransom: trombone (3, 5, 9); Bobby Broom: guitar (2, 4, 10); James Austin: piano, organ, Rhodes (1, 2, 4, 9); Ryan Cohan: piano (5, 6, 8); Ron Perrillo: piano, Rhodes (3, 7); Dennis Carroll: bass (3, 6); Clark Sommers: bass (1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 9, 10); Josh Ramos: bass (8); Harold Mims: strings (4).
Record Label: Origin Records
Style: Modern Jazz