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Kobie Watkins

Watkins, who has three brothers and four sisters, was born in Chicago on July 26, 1975. His interest in music was sparked at around age three when he first saw his father playing drums at a local Apostolic Overcoming Holy Church of God. Prior to devoting himself to religion, Alious C. Watkins Jr.

had played trap drums and other percussion instruments with the Pharaohs, a now-legendary jazz-funk group in which Earth, Wind & Fire leader Maurice White had been the original drummer, and he also backed the Dells on local engagements. His dad’s drumming led Kobie and his brothers to bang on pots and pans around the house. Kobie took up trumpet in fourth grade, played it in the jazz band while attending Orr High School, and later used it in his work as an elementary school music teacher in Joliet, Illinois, where he also played oboe, flute, clarinet, trombone, tuba, and French horn in order to demonstrate them to his fourth- and fifth-grade students.

Alious bought a toy drum set for Kobie when he was nine and a real one when he was 12. Kobie shared the set with his younger brother Asa (who remains active as a drummer in Los Angeles), and they began playing it in church, where their father had become pastor. The lessons learned from playing for a Pentecostal church choir continue to inform Kobie’s playing. “The intuitive part that goes with gospel drumming is making sure your eyes and ears are in tune with whatever’s happening in front of you,” Watkins explains. “Those are probably the most important things that I have learned with music in general, especially in jazz. When people tell me that jazz is all you need, I’m, like, wow!

“A lot of times with gospel music, it had to be in the moment. You had to be there spiritually and musically. That was probably the hardest musical experience I feel I’ve ever had, especially as a kid. If you don’t play correctly, they will put you off the drums right in mid-song. They will point to someone else and tell them to get on the drums. It’s happened to me. If the shout beat is not right, they’ll throw you off. It’s one of the most devastating things that can happen to you as a kid, but you also learn and your skin toughens. It’s worse than being out in the jazz community, or being out in the world anywhere, because at least they give you a better chance.”

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Album Review

The Bobby Broom Organi-Sation: Jamalot

Read "Jamalot" reviewed by Chris May

When Jimmy Smith brought the tablets down from the mountain, one of the commandments decreed that the job of an organ trio was to mix jazz standards with pop tunes and mash them all up into a seamless joyous brew. Guitarist Bobby Broom keeps to the original recipe on the live album Jamalot, recorded in 2014 and 2019, the earlier tracks from a tour supporting Steely Dan. It is his second disc with his Organi-Sation trio completed by Ben Paterson ...

Album Review

Mark Watkins: FOUR + Six

Read "FOUR + Six" reviewed by Chris May

We had out of nowhere, we had straight outta Compton. Here comes straight out of Brigham Young University, Idaho, where saxophone quartet FOUR leader Mark Watkins has been director of jazz studies since 1999. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints may not the most abundant source of high-grade jazz--one assumes that Watkins is a member--but FOUR + Six proves it can be. Who would have thunk it? But jazz is a broad church and the album is proof ...

Album Review

Ron Blake: Mistaken Identity

Read "Mistaken Identity" reviewed by Jack Bowers

Once hailed as a promising young lion, Puerto Rico-born saxophonist Ron Blake is more a crafty old fox these days, bringing his wealth of experience and undeniable talent to bear on Mistaken Identity, his first album as leader in fifteen years. To assure a broad comfort zone, Blake invited guitarist Bobby Broom, a longtime friend and music partner, to join him alongside drummer Kobie Watkins and bassists Nat Reeves (five numbers) and Reuben Rogers (four). Among the ...

Album Review

Bobby Broom: Keyed Up

Read "Keyed Up" reviewed by Jack Bowers

On his latest album, Keyed Up, the well-traveled and well-respected guitarist Bobby Broom pays tribute to pianists “who have been an important part of [his] musical life." As he writes, ..."many great pianists who didn't need to include my six-string version of what they could already do harmonically and melodically saw fit to include me. Perhaps, among other things, this is my way of saying 'thank you' to them." Another way to thank them may have been ...

Album Review

Andre Ferreri Quintetto: Numero Uno

Read "Numero Uno" reviewed by Jack Bowers

On Numero Uno, guitarist Andre Ferreri leads a tight-knit quintet, four of whose members appear on every number with alternating pianists—Sean Higgins, Phillip Howe, Mark Stallings (Hammond B3 on the breezy “Uptown Swing")--and one trumpeter (Brad Wilcox) who makes it a sextet on “Avia Pervia." Tenor saxophonist Ziad Rabie shares the front line while bassist Anna Stadlman and drummer Kobie Watkins lay on the rhythm. From the album's title, one might reasonably assume that Ferreri was born ...

Album Review

Steve Haines and The Third Floor Orchestra: Steve Haines and The Third Floor Orchestra

Read "Steve Haines and The Third Floor Orchestra" reviewed by Angelo Leonardi

Dare al lettore—nel breve spazio di una recensione—l'idea del contenuto e del valore (in un giudizio ovviamente soggettivo) di un album spinge a usare tutte quelle classificazioni nate per orientarci. In poche parole, creare delle mappe è utile ma se il territorio è ricco di elementi diversi si rischia di usare etichette fuorvianti. L'ascolto di questo disco orchestrale di Steve Haines spinge a queste considerazioni per il suo collocarsi tra differenti universi musicali (folk, classica, jazz, canzone ...

Album Review

Scott Sawyer: Night Visions

Read "Night Visions" reviewed by Troy Dostert

As a North Carolinian, guitarist Scott Sawyer may not enjoy the visibility of his counterparts in better-known jazz meccas, but fans of contemporary jazz guitar shouldn't pass him up. With some smart songwriting instincts and a knack for finding talented bandmates, not to mention possessing terrific guitar chops, Sawyer delivers on the promise of a career dating back to the 1980s that has involved sideman work with everyone from Nnenna Freelon to alt-rocker Chris Stamey. But Sawyer's had several releases ...

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The Jazz Session #132: Kobie Watkins

The Jazz Session #132: Kobie Watkins

Source: Michael Ricci

Drummer Kobie Watkins got his start in the world of gospel music in Chicago. He branched out into playing with guitarist (and Sonny Rollins sideman) Bobby Broom. That relationship led to Watkins himself joining Rollins band. Watkins has just released his debut album as a leader, Involved (Origin, 2009). In this interview, Watkins talks about the album as a snapshot of one point in his musical life; his audition for Sonny Rollins; and what playing every night with a living ...

Primary Instrument




Willing to teach

Beginner to advanced



Recordings: As Leader | As Sideperson

FOUR + Six

Jazz Hang Records



Steele Records


Mistaken Identity

7tēn33 Productions


Keyed Up

Steele Records


Numero Uno

Laser Records, LLC


Night Visions

Self Produced


The City

From: Movement
By Kobie Watkins



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