Drummers as leaders often have a difficult time putting
their imprint on recordings. Chico Hamilton, the L.A. legend and
giant, is the model for today’s drummers. Chicago’s Kobie Watkins on his album, “Involved” takes the leadership idea seriously. He plays, composes, and has assembled a group of very talented players to speak to the masses. Most of all, like Hamilton, Watkins does not fade into the background. His imprint on this recording is long lasting.
On Watkins’ original composition, “Expressions.” guitarist Bobby Broom shows off just a bit (this is a foreshadowing for more): melodic guitar licks singular and light. Watkins and the rest of the band do not intrude; their colors are delicate, inviting. “Sonny Lite” finds Watkins pushing a horn section to connect into the funk realm changing the mood and showing versatility of this recording. The album probably begins in force on “Taboo to Love,” a Stevie Wonder penned number has Broom again on guitar doing even better work as Watkins pressing Broom to dig deeper repeatedly. Strings by Harold Mims are especially notable.
“Third Pew” has a bit of it all and might be the album’s most complete statement. James Austin plays organ well here suggesting that this is church or at least a statement that wants to be about that aesthetic. Watkins doesn’t disappoint either. He adds in a tambourine as this hard driving revival of a song, talks to the listener, in all of the languages that Watkins finds meaningful.