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Cleveland Watkiss
Cleveland Watkiss
Cleveland Watkiss

Cleveland Watkiss
@ the 606 Club
20 November 2007

Click an image to enlarge.


Born in Hackney, East London to Jamaican parents, Cleveland Watkiss is one of nine children. He was exposed to a vast array of musical genres. Added to this, his father who was both a carpenter and a DJ often played ska, blue beat, reggae, jazz, blues and calypso. He was also a frequent attendee of the famous Ronnie Scott’s club, London.

Watkiss left school at 16 and studied engineering, music and drama. His talents were quickly recognised and he became an extremely important cog in the wheel of Lover’s Rock which exploded during the late 70’s. He was soon to be working with the likes of Carroll Thompson and Jamaican legendary vocalist, Sugar Minott.

Watkiss’ love for acting also grew immensely. His growth in this aspect of the arts world afforded him a lead role in the European production of the musical, Hair. His love for music began to grow beyond all proportions and he then undertook the study of the voice, guitar, piano and composition.

In 1985 Watkiss was one of the co-founders along with Courtney Pine O.B.E of the extremely influential Jazz Warriors big band. His vocals can be heard on the Warrior’s debut album, “Out of Many People” which won a video award in Japan. He was entered for the Wire/Guardian Jazz Awards and was voted best vocalist for three consecutive years.

Watkiss featured on and co-wrote the sound track to the film Epic “Traveller” which can be heard on Talvin Singh’s album “O.K”. He then took part in yet another historical event at the Barbican, London which showcased a live concert for Talvin Singh’s album. The band consisted of an all-star line up which included the likes of the USA’s Bill Laswell, Karsh Hale and Ajay Naidu, Japan’s Ryuichi Sakamoto, India's Rakesh Chaurasia, Ustad Sultan Khan and Shankar Mahedevan and the UK’s Byron Wallen.

The Club 21st Century project was founded by Cleveland Watkiss and HyperJAM director and multimedia artist Derek Richards to innovatively exploit all that makes the club/concert the modern cultural processor. Live musicians from a variety of traditions using ancient and modern technology play improvisationally with DJs. Video and computer artists generate projected imagery live in concord with the music. Performance artists and dancers use interactive technology to become part of the mix.

Watkiss has performed with diverse artists such as: The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Bob Dylan, Jackie Mittoo, Keith Richards, James Taylor Quartet, Stevie Wonder, Patife, Carlinhos Brown, Robbie Williams, Joe Cocker, Bobby Mc Ferrin, Branford Marsalis, Dussildorf symphonic Orchestra, George Martin, Art Blakey, Bocato Big Band, Lisa Stansfield, Janet Kay, Maxi Priest,Soul II Soul, Pete Townshend, The Who, London chamber orchestra, Kassa Mady, Goldie, Liepaja Symphonic Orchestra, Cassandra Wilson, Kenny Wheeler big band, Sugar Minot, Talvin Singh, Bjork, Pete Townshend, London Community Gospel Choir (LCGC).

Cleveland Watkiss



Victory's Happy Songbook Blessing In Disguise Green Chimneys


Further Recommended

  Click Cleveland's image below to see him at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in 2009...
Click Tony Kofi's image to view photographs of the Monk Liberation Front...

Cleveland Watkiss & friends @ the Queen Elizabeth Hall (Click to go to his page) Tony Kofi @ Southbank Centre's / Royal Festival Hall (Click to go to his page)

Go back to the London Jazz Festival 2007 home page.

 Go back to the jazz gallery.

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