Solidifying a musical 'voice' could take five years, or it could take 15 years. Yet when an artist's 'voice' or style comes, well, you just know it. The result is work with musical moves that are distinctive and ideas that are au courant. Drummer/Composer/Bandleader Kobie Watkins
' voice resounds with artistic certainty and savoir faire on his second album entitled Movement
(Origin Records, 2018), featuring the Kobie Watkins Grouptet.
Watkins, a Chicago native, has toured and recorded as a drummer with a number of noteworthy musicians such as Sonny Rollins
, Bobby Broom
, Kurt Elling
, Branford Marsalis
, Joe Lovano
, and Ryan Cohen
. A graduate of Vandercook College of Music, Watkins also travels nationwide as an educator where he shares his wisdom with "eager to learn" young musicians. A completely non-acroamatic instructor, Watkins recently released his first book A Drum Book
, which seeks to provide key drum approaches to beginning and advanced drummers. Movement
is very different from his first album, Involved
(Origin Records), released in 2006.
Upon listening to all the tracks on Movement
one fact can be quickly concluded---it is not an album that revolves solely on Watkins' drum performances. While the album showcases the stylistic versatility and rhythmic cleverness of Watkins on each track, this album seems centered on Watkins' compositions.
There are no blurry and undeveloped ideas here. No novices on this recording. What is clearly illuminated on this recording is the collective giftedness of his band, and Watkins' capability as a bandleader. Watkins composed all the melodies and arranged the parts for each instrument on Movement.
Presenting tightly sewn musical seams on each track, the accomplished and seasoned band on this album pull out the beauty of Watkins' compositions with great fortitude, musical expression, and technical clarity. The Kobie Watkins Grouptet includes: Kobie Watkins (drums), Justin Nielsen
(piano), Ryan Nielsen
(trumpet), Jonathan Armstrong (saxophone), and Aaron Miller
The track "Movement," which is also the album's name, is synonymous with what happens musically within the piece. It begins with a festive Latin themed duet showcasing two pristine talents---Ryan Nielsen on flugel horn and Jonathan Armstrong on saxophone. Yet then a surprising detour happens. The composition moves into a less-Latin, more modern, yet gorgeous unaccompanied piano solo by pianist Justin Nielsen. Watkins joins in a little later in the piano solo with some flavorful and tight comping. The piece ends with a technically savvy drum solo by Watkins.
"Prayer for Peace," the album's first track is a palliative and consolatory opener, where restraint and musical space begins and blooms into a stunning ballad.
Another slower track that exudes the band's opulent chemistry is "Six Moods" that presents sweet brass conversations over sophisticated chord structures---backed by a careful rhythm section. On "The City" you'll find Aaron Miller grounding the piece with excellent bass work. This ten track album won't disappoint.