Trevor Watkis's NEW debut recording featuring Darren Barrett, Steve Wilson, Reuben Rogers, Lewis Nash.
At the age of 16, when he started playing the piano, Trevor Watkis probably couldn’t have imagined he’d one day be described by a London music reviewer as “one of the fastest-fingered piano tyrants in town”. Watkis has evolved from a young player, idolizing the music of jazz piano icons and sneaking into Ronnie Scott’s, into a chops-laden, multi-talented, internationally-known performer, arranger and composer.
Audiences in some of the most prestigious jazz clubs in the world have enjoyed evenings of Trevor’s music, including Ronnie Scott’s and the Jazz Café (London), On Air West (Osaka and Tokyo), Babylon (Istanbul), and Smoke, the Blue Note and Sweet Basil (in New York). He has played in many European jazz festivals, and has even performed in front of a sold-out house at the Royal Festival Hall.
Though jazz is his first musical love, the jazz club scene and jazz stages aren’t his only venues. Due to his versatility, Trevor has also been seen and heard on television and on the big screen, most notably accompanying Natalie Cole and Elvis Costello in the film “DeLovely”, directed by Irwin Winkler. He has arranged music for live radio theater broadcast on BBC, appeared in several television commercials and has recorded with jazz, pop, reggae and fusion groups.
To ascend to these musical heights, Trevor made the most of his talent and opportunities at every step in his music career. Growing up as a youngster, he was strongly influenced by his Jamaican heritage and a West Indian cultural milieu in London. Music was inescapable in the Watkis household. He and his siblings traded instruments (he actually began his musical explorations on the guitar), and, early on, he was exposed to several genres of music.
Once Trevor zeroed in on jazz piano, he didn’t let anything divert him from his goal. He incessantly studied his idols (Wynton Kelly, Bud Powell, Red Garland and McCoy Tyner) and met and hung out and studied with pianists such as Mulgrew Miller, Cedar Walton, Benny Green, Donald Brown and fellow Briton Julian Joseph). He patiently sought and was granted a scholarship to attend the highly respected Berklee College of Music. While in the U.S., he spent two years traveling between school in Boston and the jazz clubs in New York, performing every chance he got and writing tunes and practicing non-stop in between. He honed his skills playing sessions or gigs with some notable contemporaries--Lalah Hathaway, Antonio Hart, Roy Hargrove, Paula Cole and Joshua Redman and Mark Turner to name just a few.
Trevor’s long list of performing credits now includes playing with UK-based greats Courtney Pine, Jean Toussaint, Gary Crosby, Tony Kofi and brother Cleveland. His reputation beyond the UK has also earned him stints with Billy Higgins, Stanley Turrentine, Kenny Garrett, Gary Bartz, Eddie Henderson, James Spaulding, and Betty Carter. In 1992, having learned that one of Trevor’s dreams was to play with her, Ms. Carter called him up to the stage to join her for a few tunes during one of her performances at Ronnie Scott’s.
Trevor recently completed his debut recording as a leader. Still keeping the best of musical company, eight of his original tunes and one of Trevor’s innovative jazz arrangements of a Stevie Wonder song were laid down in a New York recording studio with saxophonist Steve Wilson, trumpeter Darren Barrett, bassist Reuben Rogers and drummer Lewis Nash. During a rehearsal for that session, Steve Wilson said of one of Trevor’s tunes, “It’s so lyrical, it almost plays itself”.
The music for 'Straight Ahead Ride For Tone!', Trevor’s debut album, has a variety of flavours and textures and each composition takes you on a different journey. Trevor says, “harmony has always intrigued me and when writing the music, I used a variety of textures and colours harmonically and rhythmically. With each song, I tried to write music that had a strong melody that would stand out. I specifically wanted to write music that wasn’t too ‘far out’. I think in jazz we can sometimes get too complex for potential listeners, so I tried to write music that was simple but challenging at the same time.”
Having had an established presence on the UK jazz scene for some time, with this new debut album Trevor Watkis will make new waves on the UK and international jazz scene as composer and performer.
"Londoner Trevor Watkis exudes a cool, swinging confidence on his first recording as a leader. Alongside a crew of American heavyweights" - Jazz Times
"Trevor has a strong presence as a straightahead jazz virtuoso, and it's surprising that this New York-recorded
set is his first album as a leader" - The Guardian
"It's a tribute to his talent that Watkis could assemble a heavyweight New York cast.." - The Irish Times
"This is fine, no-nonsense contemporary jazz by a British
pianist-composer of unusual warmth, touch and taste"
- The London Evening Standard