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Kobie Watkins: Involved (2009)

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Kobie Watkins: Involved How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

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
Sonny Rollins
Sonny Rollins
b.1930
saxophone
, guitarist Bobby Broom
Bobby Broom
Bobby Broom
b.1961
guitar
, and vocalist Kurt Elling
Kurt Elling
Kurt Elling
b.1967
vocalist
, 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
Pharez Whitted
Pharez Whitted

trumpet
, and saxophonist Geof Bradfield
Geof Bradfield
Geof Bradfield
b.1970
saxophone
, Watkins blends straight-ahead blowing and unabashed funk to create an energized set of groove-heavy jazz.

Thoughtful covers of Stevie Wonder

Stevie Wonder
Stevie Wonder
b.1950
keyboard
's "Taboo To Love" and Kenny Dorham
Kenny Dorham
Kenny Dorham
1924 - 1972
trumpet
'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 Involved—along with a recent relocation to New York—Watkins 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


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