Monday, December 28, 2009

Cleveland Watkiss 50th Birthday concert

Cleveland held his 50th birthday concert during the London Jazz festival at the Queen Elizabeth Hall on the south bank.An absolutely brilliant night of music where he revisited a lot of the music and experiences he has had during a musical career that has criss-crossed through many genres!
Listening to Cleveland Watkiss in concert the listener quickly understands why he is such a complete musician and performer. The turnout of musicians involved in his 50th Birthday concert was unbelievable plus the many who had made the trip down to the south bank to watch the concert just goes to show how much genuine feeling there is for Cleveland.
I had the honour of being one of the invited musicians to perform on the day. I performed in The Jazz Warriors segment with some of the musicians who have been an integral part of the Warriors story!Adrian Reid-Piano,Jason Yarde-Alto Sax,Brian Edwards-Alto Sax,Gary Crosby-Double Bass,Mark Mondesir-Drums,Byron Wallen-Trumpet to name some of those in attendance.It was very interesting to hear the feedback from some of those who witnessed the return of the original Jazz Warriors sound!Mmm-Anyway watch this space for some exciting news in the new year.Here is a review from Paul Bradshaw Editor of celebrated journal Straight no Chaser magazine:
Cleveland happily shared his birthday honours with be-bop veteran and fellow singer, 82 year old Sheila Jordan and then, after an intermission, proceeded to confound the audience appearing onstage dressed a la 17th Century. It was left to the piano vituoso Julian Joseph to explain that
the attire and the nature of this character resided in Bridgetower - an opera he’d written and in which Cleveland had performed.Aside from the jazz circuit Cleveland has constantly engaged in London’s ever evolving clubland. He was a regular at Talking Loud & Saying Something/ Dingwalls and was a fully fledged member of Goldie’s Metalheadz crew. His Project 23, with Marque Gilmore and DJ La Rouge (guesting on turntables at Cleveland 50!), highlighted his commitment to putting his own stamp on the drum ‘n’ bass scene. It was through the Warriors and through the club, Anohka, that he developed a working relationship with young, master percussionist Talvin Singh. This relationship was beautifully conveyed at the QEH through a trio setting where the singer engaged with Talvin’s rippling tabla riffs and the sublime, pristine
rhythms and melodies of Tunde Jegede’s kora. It was down to the spoken word of Vayu Naydu to lift this trio to brand new heights.Spoken world also found its way into the set via playwright and novelist Bonnie Greer and then it was down to beat boxer Schlomo, who joined Cleveland, trumpeter Byron Wallen and drummer Shaney Forbes, to articulate a whole other approach to rhythm and sound. The impact of these performances along with those of stellar pianists Jason Rebello, Alex Wilson (you are b-a-a-ad!) and Nicky Yeoh (beautiful duets) will resonate with me for time to come.The spirit of exchange is an elemental force in this music and Cleveland Watkiss – Jazzman, Junglist… Outer-nationalist! – reflects his roots 100%. Hackney was in the house at the QEH, Believe! A refusal to be boxed into any one genre underpinned the whole session. As we drew to a close the slightly twisted Cuba-Brasil collision on ‘Torch of Freedom’ had Cleveland
and Heidi Vogel enjoying a freewheeling lyrical exchange over a sweet montuno. It provided the perfect place to call it day and sent us off happy into a windswept November night.
Paul Bradshaw – Straight No Chaser-November 2009

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