Tag Archives: Album

Kobie Watkins: Movement

Movement

Drummer Kobie Watkins, born and raised in Chicago, has toured and recorded with a number of well-known musicians like Sonny RollinsBobby Broom (he plays on the three Bobby Broom albums which I have in my collection)Kurt EllingBranford Marsalis and Joe Lovano. He presents here his first album with his Grouptet.

The Kobie Watkins Grouptet includes:

  • Kobie Watkins – drums
  • Justin Nielsen - piano
  • Ryan Nielsen - trumpet
  • Jonathan Armstrong – saxophone
  • Aaron Miller - bass

The album was released on May 15 and contains nine originals, along with a great new arrangement of ‘Manteca.’

The first song on the album is called “Catch This” and starts with an easy latin groove with a clear focus on the percussive playing of Kobie. The first solo goes to the trumpet followed by the bass with nice kicks from the horns, all very easy and laid-back. Dynamics increase a little with the piano and saxophone solo. Then at around 5:00 min an extensive latin outro starts and the jazz band sounds now like a salsa band. Kobie told me that “… the end section and the overall energy is from a place I grew up as an upcoming professional in and throughout Chicago. The latin late nights in the latin clubs where music, dance and language never slept. “

The album continues with “The City”. This is my first highlight of the album. A pushing groove by Kobie, a beautiful melody perfectly arranged in two voices and great modal solos, especially by Justin Nielsen on piano leave no doubt that we have here a band of true masters at work. Kobie explained me that this song is about his adventurous feelings when traveling and coming into The City.
“T
he groove is something I created, working on a Sonny Rollins tune. Playing with him when I created this tune inspired how I arranged the song.”
He also told me this song could last for hours, the modal form leaves plenty of space for the musicians to improvise extensively. On the album unfortunately the fun is over after 7:20 mins.

The next song is called “Movement” and it is the title song of the album. This song is composed around a bass line Kobie wrote in 2007. It starts polyrhythmic, as Kobie said in an “afrocentric feeling” and then after 2 mins it changes to an elegiac unaccompanied piano solo that gets more and more intensive, drums, bass and later the whole band steps in and plays again briefly the theme. The next solo part is a duet between saxophone and Ryan Nielsen on flugelhorn. The outro of the tune is a perfect drum solo with kicks form the band.

“Six Moods”, the next tune is a ballad in 6/8 that changes to 5/4. A great melody and nice harmonic changes. Beautiful solos by piano, saxophone and flugelhorn. Kobie wrote this song in 2012 and he started it “… with me singing into my phone while driving a long distance. This was a song created from a somber mood swing… I tend to have from time to time…nothing serious.” But no somberness from my point of view, just a great melody and excellent solos.

The album continues with “Ga-Rum-Ban” a fast and furios tune with solos from saxophone, trumpet and a breathtaking piano in dialog with the drums.

“Inner Motion” is the next song and as before, the bass line was the starting point of the composition. A soft song with a complex bass line and a simple melody above. Justin Nielsen plays very tastefully on a Rhodes. Great dynamics in the trumpet and saxophone solos, this song is another highlight of the album.

The album continues with the tune “Rivet”.  The bass is again the origin of the tune. Kobie told me that this song was created in 2016 during a long drive. And this tune feels like a long drive, very steady even a little bit monotonic, “flowing sound” as Kobie explained.

“MBDC” comes next and unfortunately neither me nor Kobie are able to explain to you what this acronym stands for. The song was written in 2008 while Kobie was in Zimbabwe. It has a very energetic rhythm with a simple melody and eloquent drum fills. Quite remarkable is the saxophone solo in this song where Jonathan Armstrong and Kobie push each other and create great dynamics and incredible energy.

“Falling Upward” is the last original from Kobie Watkins on this album. This tune is based on a pushing groove and it is one more time Jonathan Armstrong who soaks up this energy and plays another astonishing solo. The song closes with soft piano chords and you have the impression of a show coming to an end.

However, there is the encore: “Manteca” by Dizzy Gillespie returns to where we started, to the dancers in the latin clubs where music never sleeps This famous jazz standard starts with a long groove intro. The head is played as a dialog between piano and saxophone, the B part is split between saxophone and trumpet similar to the original version. Great dynamic solos come from piano, saxophone and trumpet before the band returns to the steady groove from the beginning.

And if that is not enough there is another song available on bandcamp. It is called “Prayer for Peace” and was composed by Justin Nielsen. A beautiful and noble ballad with great harmonies and an incredible solo by Ryan Nielsen on flugelhorn.
https://kobiewatkinsgrouptet.bandcamp.com/

Not much to say anymore about this album: there is an extraordinary drummer who found congenial musicians and the result is an outstanding album full of energy and positive vibrations.

Here is a nice video from Kobie Watkins with some more information about this album:

And finally a playlist on Spotify:

Claudio Scolari, Daniele Cavalca & Simone Scolari: Natural Impulse

natural-impulse-2

 

Another album that combines electronic and acoustic music comes from Italy, from drummer Claudio Scolari, multi-instrumentalist Daniele Cavalca and trumpet player Simone Scolari (he is Claudio’s son).

Their album “Natural Impulse” was released on January 26, 2018.

Claudio Scolari was educated as classical percussionist and works at the Conservatory of Caltanissetta in Sicily. 

The basic idea of the album is to compose in real time without any rules. Nevertheless the songs in the album have a strong structure and rich color, so it is a real pleasure to listen to the album. Every tune has it’s own mood, it’s own spirit, making the CD diversified and very entertaining.

10 songs are on the album with a total playtime of 62 minutes.

The opener “Unknown Destination” introduces the band: drums, trumpet, a piano that sounds a little bit honky-tonky and various synthesizer sounds. After that intro the song gets into its pulse, with  piano and trumpet as duellists.

The second tune “American Skyscrapers” is one of my favorite tunes on the album. Base of the song is a somehow familiar jazz harmonic structure and again a steady pulse from drums and bass. Daniele Cavalca on vibraphone adds the extra NYC-Jazz-touch here.

The next song is called “Chasing Inspiration” and is a lonesome trumpet in conversation with a synthesizer accompanied by two drum sets.

The fourth song is the title song of the album. The piano plays the main theme and solo backed up by drums and bass.

The next tune is called “Moon Mood” and is a big contrast to the spartan sound from before. The trumpet plays the melody and various synthesizer sounds support Simone Scolari. A slow riff by bass and drums build the fundament of the tune.

“Dear John” comes next. Again, the trumpet plays the melody with the support of a synthesizer pulse. The mood of this song is quite festive and ceremonial.

“Uptown Night Trip” starts very open with a Fender Rhodes piano, synthesizer and drums searching for the right direction for the night trip. Sometimes they find a place where to stay but the search continues throughout the song. A brillant abstract painting.

Song #8 is called “Insomnia” and continues where “Uptown Night Trip” ended, the search continues with the full ensemble in action: trumpet, vibraphone, piano, synthesizers, bass and drums. The trumpet manages sometimes to escape that dark feeling with beautiful high notes.

The next tune is called “Over The Horizon” and is another of my favorites on the album. Great synthesizer layer with the trumpet above and bass and drums supporting them.

The album finishes with the song “South Hemisphere” and it shows again all the different elements that make this album so pleasant: complex rhythmic structures, a great variety of sounds and a brillant trumpet above all that.

As a summary I have to say that this album is a perfect example of modern improvised music combining different elements from Jazz, classical and world music into one masterpiece. The album is not a conventional Jazz album but a journey to improvised music and into sound-painting. So, take your time to listen to the complete album, don’t rush through the songs and I hope you will find the same inspiration from this music as I did.

natural-impulse

If you want to know more about Claudio Scolari please take a look at his website:
www.claudioscolari.com

There is a nice interview with him on JazzBluesNews:
http://jazzbluesnews.space/2017/12/31/claudio-scolari/

And finally a playlist on iTunes: