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Kobie Watkins - Always Moving Forward

Updated: Sep 7, 2018

Growing up in Chicago Kobie was first influenced by watching his father (Alious C. Watkins) play drums in the church. Of course this lead him to get curious about drumming himself and he quickly graduated from playing pots and pans as a toddler to practicing rudiments on a snare drum. With guidance from his father, Kobie continued to grow as a musician and when it came time to decide on what to do after high school he decided to give Vandercook College of Music a try instead of enlisting in the army which was the original plan.



FEATURED SECTIONS (Click on the time and you will be sent to Youtube to watch the specific section.)

0:53 - New Cd Movement

6:00 - Importance of knowing Jazz Standards

7:42 - Composing original music

9:15 - Getting started on drums

15:02 - Going to college rather than the army

16:20 - Auditioning and attending Vandercook

20:20 - Starting to gig while in school

24:02 - Rehearsing & Sonny Rollins sound check

25:57 - Playing with Branford Marsalis

31:42 - Playing with Bobby Broom

35:31 - Playing with Kurt Elling

38:28 - Auditioning for Sonny Rollins

55:35 - Teaching


At Vandercook Kobie studied all forms and genres of the percussion family with Marc “Max” Jacoby (vibraphonist/ mallet) and Kevin Lepper (percussionist). While learning percussion and all other instruments, Kobie’s extra curricular time was spent playing jazz standards and trading solo's with alto saxophonist Dennis Winslett which helped to expand his playing and concepts on how drums interacted with other instruments.

Graduating from Vandercook with a Bachelors of Music Education in 1999, Kobie became a public school band / music teacher by day, by night he played gigs around the Chicago land area and throughout the United States. Kobie eventually became known as the “Swing Master”of Chicago. He was depicted in a front-page article in the Joliet, Illinois Herald titled “Teacher has Alter Ego as Jazz Musician.”

He decided to continue his education at Northwestern University where in 2003 he received a Masters of Music in Jazz Pedagogy while continuously performing on the Chicago jazz scene. It was around that time that he began performing with guitarist Bobby Broom in his trio which served as a major turning point in his playing career. Broom who had moved to Chicago from New York is an internationally known guitarist and had a weekly steady with his trio that provided Watkins the platform to hone his musical concepts and skills and take his playing to the next level. A few years later, again thanks to Broom who was Sonny Rollins guitarist at the time, Watkins was able to audition for the jazz legend which lead to him touring and recording with Rollins up until recently.

In addition Watkins has performed and recorded with musicians such as Branford Marsalis, Joe Lovano, Curtis Fuller, Bob Mintzer, Jim Hall, John Patitucci, Arturo Sandoval, George Coleman, Ira Sullivan, Sonny Fortune, Roy Haynes, Roy Hargrove, Kurt Elling, Fred Anderson, Chrstian McBride, Bobby Broom, Orbert Davis, Ken Chaney, Ron Perrillo, Bethany Pickens, Ryan Cohan and many others.

In this interview Watkins talks about growing up in Chicago, how he got started playing drums, what he has learned from the different performance opportunities he has had over the years and much more.

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