Drummer, percussionist and composer Kobie Watkins assembled some of the best local talent for a great jazz event last night at the Broad Street Cafe!
Kobie Watkins is from Chicago, Illinois. He has cultivated dynamic relationships with his peers in and out of the Jazz, Latin, and Gospel community as a drummer, percussionist and a mentor.
Living out his commitment to the music he holds a long list of great musicians he has played and recorded with- jazz legend Sonny Rollins, Curtis Fuller, Arturo Sandoval, George Coleman, Ira Sullivan, Sonny Fortune, including Kurt Elling, Fred Anderson, Ari Brown, Willie Pickens, Bobby Broom, Orbert Davis, Ken Chaney, Ron Perrillo, Bethany Pickens, Ryan Cohan, Dennis Winslett, Jarrard Harris and James Austin. Additionally, Gospel singer Kim Burrell, R&B and Neo Soul artists Julie Dexter, Javier, Kendra Ross, Chris Robinson, and many others. Kobie has toured extensively in Africa, Europe, Asia, Canada, South America and the United States.
Joining Kobie last night were:
Brian Horton – is a composer, saxophonist, producer and jazz educator from Kinston, North Carolina. He graduated from North Carolina Central University with a BA in jazz performance in the spring of 1997. Two years later he obtained his MA at the Aaron Copeland School of Music in Queens, New York under the direction of Jimmy Heath and the late Sir Roland Hanna. Since that time he has kept a steady balance of work as a bandleader, sideman and composer/arranger for such renowned jazz musicians as Hanna, Winard Harper, Louie Bellson, Clark Terry, Delfaeyo Marsalis and others.
John Brown – John Brown is a well established, GRAMMY-nominated bassist and is the Director of the Jazz Program at Duke University. He has performed all over the world with artists like Elvin Jones, each member of the Marsalis family, Nnenna Freelon, Rosemary Clooney, Nicholas Payton, Mark Whitfield and has performed regularly with the North Carolina Symphony since 1992. He recently performed in Hawaii for President & Mrs. Obama, and each of his recordings has reached the Top 40 on the national Jazz Week chart.
Lovell Bradford – Adjunct professor of piano at Davidson College ( Go Cats! Maybe I should disclose that I studied Music and Art at Davidson) who is well known and played on a number of top recordings in both the Gospel and Jazz traditions.
Al Strong – Al Strong is a Washington, D.C. native trumpeter, arranger, and composer. Since he first emerged on the scene in 1998 as a jazz studies major at NCCU, Strong has been an up and coming artist in jazz. He is an integral figure in the current local jazz scene having performed/recorded for local artists such as Mavis Swan Poole, Yahzarah, Peter Lamb and the Wolves (Voted 2011 Best Jazz Band in the Triangle), Clay Aiken, Big Daddy Kane, Orquesta Gardel, The Beast, and Zakiyah.
The groove was energetic and tight from the first number. After the first couple of numbers I think everyone was worried like me that the guys would run out of steam if they kept up the blistering pace they set. Fortunately that was not a problem and the energy and playing remained strong throughout, if anything getting more nuanced as the evening went on!
The crowd was really tuned into the guys’ playing and there were many spontaneous outbursts of applause as they fed off of each others improvisations throughout the show.
It was also great to see many Art of Cool Project regulars in the house. Nice photobombing Mr. Waddie!
Just when we thought it was as good as it gets, Al Strong stepped onto the stage and took the whole enterprise to a new level!
Thank you to Kobie, John, Brian, Lovell and Al for a special night of music and as always to John and Anna for hosting us at Broad Street Cafe. Another huge thanks to all of our volunteers, members and show patrons who have a huge positive impact on live music performance offerings in the Triangle!
Photos and Essay :: Frank Myers
Frank Myers is a member of the board of directors for the Art of Cool Project who makes regular contributions of photography and art inspired by the talented performers associated with the Art of Cool Project. Check out his blog at Sweet Life Studios to see more of his Art of Cool work.