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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
'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