Gathering 30 Graphic

Kit Watkins

Live at

The Gathering

Saturday, March 10th, 2001

St. Mary's Hamilton Village
Philadelphia, PA

Kit Watkins

Kit Watkins

Kit Watkins

Kit Watkins

Kit Watkins

Kit Watkins

Review: The Gatherings with Kit Watkins (a different view)

Funny how things stick in the mind. Back in November, while heading to the Jonn Serrie Gathering, I crossed the bridge from Jersey into Philadelphia, noticing upon the western horizon that Venus had appeared from behind the sun. I'm not so sure why I find comfort in this, except to say it may be in knowing that for the next six months or so, her beauty would be gracing our evening skies. Our closer, sister planet catches up to us in our slower, more lengthy orbit around the Sun. She brightens as she does. Last night, same bridge, same Gathering approachment, Kit Watkins on the horizon, and Venus, seemingly in the same exact spot, but this time while on her nightly descent, before she passes in the space between the Earth and the Sun in a week or so, is bound for the morning sky. Bye, you.

We could remember frying in near hundred degree temperatures during a Jeff Pearce/Kevin Keller concert last spring. Last night, it was downright brisk. Many a jacket remained donned in St. Mary's before the show last night. An ever-drifting James Johnson piece quietly settled us in.

I must confess that my Kit Watkins' listening experiences were virtually nil before attending last night's event. The only CD of his that I possess is his electronic interpretation of classical vignettes by the likes of Satie and Chopin called A Different View. A much greater diversification of Kit's talents had been described and promised for his concert appearance. If Chuck van Zyl's poetic reflections concerning Watkins' Rolling Curve release didn't tantalize the curiosity, what possibly could have? Chuck wrote: "The music seeps into your room, through the keyhole and around the doorjamb, like smoke from a smoldering concept or mist from a descending idea."

The artist obviously prepared meticulously for this appearance. I could not believe that Watkins had not performed live in 20 years. He appeared in midseason form. His performance was so refined, disciplined, and flawless that one would have thought he'd been practicing the music and the motions in preparation for last night every night for the entire 20 years. This guy is smooth onstage, presenting a most quiet, unassuming demeanor.

But not so was his music. Here is where I was quite surprised. I'd almost like to classify last night's performance as a "smooth/space jazz" event, but I know this would be underselling what really transpired. At times, I would close my eyes and swear I was hearing Mark Isham playing his trumpet at his somber best, only with a layered sonic background reaching heavenly levels Isham has never obtained. Three particular instrumental facets came to the forefront of Watkins performance last night. The bulk of the fine melodies were presented through a wind synthesizer, my first experience here at hearing one of these, and, my oh my... like mentioned above, close your eyes and there's an acoustic trumpet in the house. Watkins also relied heavily on an electronic percussion pad during several stimulating and pulsating beat patterns. Thirdly, an entire assortment of acoustic percussion instruments were constantly added to the musical flair. He presented these much in the fashion that Steve Roach does live, switching from one to another, after having layered fine electronic sound sequences. One particular instrument was fascinating, though I'm not sure what to call it (ed. a waterphone). My friend comically, but correctly, said it looked just like baseball's World Series trophy. It was a circular, standing, rigid wind-chime type of thing, which Watkins either bonged or bowed, and the resulting effect was transcending.

I've gone on here long enough and will leave room for others to add what they may. Let me finish by saying this. There was a fine crowd at the church last night. Maybe the heaviest attended Gathering that I can recall. A wonderful sign here. It's so comforting to see the hard work made in preparing these events, by both the Gatherings coordinators and by artists like Kit Watkins, deservedly rewarded.

by soma611
As Posted to The Spacelist: Sun, 11 March 2001

Review: The Gatherings with Kit Watkins

The concert was fantastic! I was an hour late but I still enjoyed every minute of what I heard. I was literally entranced through most of the compositions! I didn't expect this at all; I usually prefer the more structured/rhythmic stuff and feel very focused as I listen. But Saturday night, something about the whole environment (the acoustics, the lighting effects against the beautiful church sanctuary, Kit's calm manner as he built up the sound, etc.) caught me off guard and I enjoyed the music on a much more visceral, almost spiritual level. This was a very new experience for me. Thank you from the bottom of my heart, Kit.

I enjoyed everything Kit did, but two pieces stood out for me, perhaps because I didn't recognize them from any of his CDs: "The Infinity of Three" and "Song for Russia". The latter was especially beautiful and sad.

It was amusing for me to see so many people intently scrutinizing Kit's gear during the intermission and after the show. To my mind it was like looking through a magician's props, trying to find out where the magic is kept. {grin} I think Kit has excellent musical tools, but I am far more interested in what he does with them than how he uses them.

I decided not to hang around afterwards; looks like there were dozens of other folks trying to do the same thing. Kit strikes me as a very private person and it was more than enough for me that he came out of the studio and played for us.

I caught some of Kit's music on STAR'S END radio on the way home (until I got too far past Baltimore); very beautiful. A nice way to end the evening.

Anyway, I just wanted to thank everyone for the wonderful concert. I look forward to what comes next...

by Andy Moore

p.s. One thing the concert reinforced for me was the need for more organic and expressive electronic instruments in my own rig. I just got a Zendrum, and anticipate spending the next few years mastering it...

Review: The Gatherings with Kit Watkins

Just a note to tell you how much we enjoyed the show at St. Mary's in Philly on Saturday night. Kit is truly an amazing musician. Although I remember his sax and flute playing with Happy The Man, I was surprised to see the woodwinds used as extensively as they were for this show. At times, the music reminded me of Weather Report, who's music I was really into in the 70's and 80's. Please, please, please release the show as a live disc, it was too good not to have a permanent copy of. Here's hoping that it will not be another 20 years till we get the pleasure of seeing Kit live again.

by Tom Born

Kit Watkins   Kit Watkins   Kit Watkins

Kit Watkins   Kit Watkins   Kit Watkins

The Gathering set 1   The Gathering set 2

In mid-2001, a two CD set of the 10 March 2001 Kit Watkins concert at the Gathering was released.
The CDs are named The Gathering Set 1 and The Gathering Set 2 and are a double album release of the entire performance.
Click on a cover for details on how to purchase either of these recordings direct from the artist (off-site).

For more about Kit Watkins, please access the:

All Photos By Bill Forcier