Nov 30, 2009

Cleveland Watkiss - Green Chimneys

barabara sounds sez:
Cleveland Watkiss just celebrated his 50th birthday with a gig at the London Jazz festival... So let's celebrate with this little gem.
Don't know Cleveland? He's a top vocalist and super versatile. Genres mean nothing: he's sung soul, gospel, reggae, jazz, drum'n'bass — even opera and choral work. And really he's nothing like Bobby McFerrin.
He was a founder (with Courtney Pine and all) of the Jazz Crusaders Warriors (thanks anon), a pioneer of UK jungle/d&b (here's more on that), and if you don't know his 2002 album Victory’s Happy Songbook, you're missing out on a true barabara classic.
But this one — his first album (or was there one before this?) from 1991 — is straight ahead jazz, which is no doubt why it came out on Verve.

AMG (Yawno) sez:
In the late '80s, Cleveland Watkiss was thought of as a British Bobby McFerrin; where has he been since?At the time of this CD, he showed a great deal of potential and was becoming more original. He is joined by some of the top young English jazz musicians of the era (including pianist Jason Rebello and, on a couple of separate songs, Courtney Pine and Steve Williamson on sopranos) with guest appearances from American drummer Clifford Jarvis and tenorman Jean Toussaint. Watkiss is the main star throughout, singing his words to Thelonious Monk's "Green Chimneys" and Wayne Shorter's "Seeds of Sin," and contributing some adventurous originals of his own. The comparisons with McFerrin apply most tonewise; Watkiss has a similar adventurous spirit, and both singers achieving a lot less in the 1990s than one might have expected. This increasingly hard-to-find CD is well worth searching for.

I've dropped links in the comments for 2 other tracks by Cleveland — Kamikaze; and the DJ Patife remix of Torch Of Freedom (from Victory's). Enjoy.


Anonymous said...

taro nombei said...

Over on Cleveland's own web site he's offering DLs of another of his early albums: Blessing In Disguise (1992).
Check it out:

cheeba said...

Good looking out, taro!

Cleveland and Conrad are tops in the d'n'b MC gang for my buck but always liked CW a bit more...Thanks for the history lesson, the LP and the links!

taro nombei said...

@ cheeba
yer welcome!

Anonymous said...

he was the founder of the Jazz Warriors, not the Jazz Crusaders...
their cover of Chameleon was included in one of the first Rebirth of Cool compilations as well.

drfeelgoed said...

Sounds interesting, never heard of him before. Thanks in advance

taro nombei said...

@ anon
you're absolutely right. i got my wires crossed on that one.
I'm going to have to dig out those old rebirth of the cool albums and give them a spin. thanks!

taro nombei said...

Went back to the Kamikaze track on the old 21st Century Soul comp which came out on Talkin' Loud back in '97:

And as a taster for the brilliant Victory’s Happy Songbook, here's Torch Of Freedom (DJ Patife remix):