As far as debut discs by relatively new artists these days, Kobie Watkins' Involved
is way above the norm. For a sampling of the diversity of his percussive talent, it spans quite a large stylistic panorama and gives an introductory snapshot of his already expansive versatility. For those out there that haven't met him yet, Wathins first came to many music mavens' attention playing gigs with everyone from guitarist Bobby Broom to Sonny Rollins. He has been a member, along with bassist Dennis Carroll, of the former's working trio for many years and has appeared on its albums. While Broom makes cameos on three of the tracks, another former leader, pianist Ryan Cohan, shows up for a like number. Perhaps the most important component, aside from the leader, is the drummer's old friend from his days at Northwestern University who produced the affair and plays string synthesizer on the ballad "Taboo to Love," penned by Stevie Wonder. Watkins has four charts represented: "Movin' On"; the time shifting "Affections"; a Latin item, "Expressions"; and co-written with Mims, the unfortunately-titled "Sonny Like." He sticks to his trap set exclusively, except for some tambourine work on the altar-call "Third Pew" and both live and over-dubbed claves, shekere, cabeza, tubular, and egg shakers, and congas on "Movin' On" and "Expressions." All hands contribute valuable sounds to this high level of variety that makes this disc a most welcome calling card for an impressive young drummer.