Kit Watkins - Azure - 1989 - East Side Digital
A highly acclaimed album, including beautiful renditions of Jan Hammer’s I Remember Me and Philip Catherine’s Nairam. A great example of progressive rock, classical, jazz, world, and ambient electronica from the former Camel, and Happy The Man artist. Azure demonstrates Kit Watkins' great composing skills. It is a very good contemporary synth/keyboard dominated album. The music is adventorous and sophisticated, with odd time signatures. This album has been called "maybe too mellow for most readers" in a music article, but that comment does not necessarily have a bearing on the quality of the music, which is excellent. A.O.O.F.C would be interested in your comments on this album. Buy his great "Circle" album for more of the same contemporary world music. You should also hear the self titled "Happy The Man" album, and Camel's "I Can See Your House From Here" album, which both feature Kit Watkins.
1 Road To Orion (7:58)
2 Cirrus (6:57)
3 I Remember Me (5:27)
4 Ursa Major (3:02)
5 Innocent Adventure (7:23)
6 Nairam (7:28)
7 Sahara Sonata (6:28)
8 A Fragile Landscape (5:30)
9 Azure (6:36)
All tracks composed by Kit Watkins, except "Nairam," by Philip Catherine, & "I Remember Me" by Jan Hammer
Kit Watkins: keyboards, flute, drum machine programming, field recordings, engineering, production.
Kit was the main keyboard player in Happy the Man. Later he joined Camel for an album and a tour. Since then he's released several solo albums. All his albums are very different, some great, some fairly disappointing. The two Thought Tones albums are ambient releases of processed industrial noise (yawn!). A Different View is an album of very straightforward classical pieces (mostly Satie), nothin' special. Azure is a very low-key new-agey album with some nice moments and interesting compositions, but I think maybe too mellow for most readers. All of the the others are fair game: Frames of Mind features one side of vocal tracks and a second side of sequenced electronic sounding stuff. In Time is probably the best, most upbeat, and the one I'd recommend for starters. Sunstruck is good too, but has a few very mellow tracks in the Azure vein. Wet Dark and Low is fairly upbeat and is quite good. If you're still confused, get Sampler - it's very inexpensive for the CD and contains over 70 minutes of music. http://184.108.40.206/search?q=cache:5Y9DKjEVEwgJ:www.gepr.net/w.html+Kit+Watkins+Azure+1989&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=16&gl=ie
Kit Watkins (born 1953) is an American progressive-ambient-jazz recording artist based in Brattleboro, Vermont. Born in Virginia to classical piano teachers, he was a founding member of the American progressive rock band Happy The Man, formed in Harrisonburg, Virginia in 1973. Contrary to popular belief, the band's name was not taken from a little-known Genesis song of the same name - a bizarre coincidence that amazed and surprised the band, who had no knowledge of the song until later. The band actually took its name from Faust by Goethe, who used the phrase "happy the man" often in the book. The band moved to the Washington, DC area in the summer of 1975 and developed a devoted following as a result of airplay on WGTB-FM (the Georgetown University radio station which no longer broadcasts) as well as live performances sponsored by the station, headlining the Pandemedia event of that year. The band was a regular act at The Cellar Door in Georgetown, DC. In 1976 they auditioned for singer Peter Gabriel for his touring back-up band, a role comparable to that of The Band for Bob Dylan in the mid-1960s. Watkins remembers the audition well. "The band with Gabriel sounded surprisingly like Genesis," he says. "I think he decided against us for that reason, although we never knew that with any certainty."The band wanted to keep its identity and not be known as merely Gabriel's back-up band, so when Gabriel declined, they were not entirely disappointed. A few months later, they signed with Clive Davis' Arista Records, which released their debut album, Happy The Man, in 1977 to a much wider audience. The album was a mixture of impressionist jazz fusion, progressive rock, and ethereal tone poems, and, like its follow-up, was primarily instrumental. The band released their second album, Crafty Hands, in 1978. Both albums were produced by Ken Scott, engineer from The Beatles' White Album sessions, who also engineered and produced albums by David Bowie, Supertramp, Mahavishnu Orchestra, and the Dixie Dregs. Watkins worked closely with Scott as the band's representative in recording and mixing both Happy The Man albums. For Watkins, this was a crash course in recording technique which he later found invaluable in his solo recording endeavors. Throughout Happy the Man's tenure, Watkins' contributions figured prominently in the band's sound and incorporated his writing, playing, arranging, and producing skills. The two Happy The Man albums found a small but devoted cult audience for the band, but sales of both albums were disappointing, and the band was dropped by Arista in 1978. Concurrently, their drummer was replaced by French percussionist Coco Roussel. After about a year of label-shopping without results, the group's drive and commitment began to wane. Near the end of that year, the British progressive rock band Camel approached Watkins about replacing their keyboardist, Pete Bardens, and he accepted. The remaining members of Happy The Man then disbanded and pursued other interests, but reformed in 2000 with keyboardist David Rosenthal and Crafty Hands drummer Ron Riddle (later replaced by Joe Bergamini) complementing three founding members; Frank Wyatt, Stan Whitaker and Rick Kennell. (The band has been inactive following the release of its album The Muse Awakens in 2004, and Wyatt and Whitaker have resurfaced in a new band called Oblivion Sun) In June 1979, Watkins traveled to England to join Camel, and the band recorded a new album, I Can See Your House From Here for Decca Records, with Rupert Hine as producer. The band toured England, Europe, and Japan to promote the album. Watkins left Camel at the beginning of rehearsals in 1980 for their next album, Nude, because little of what he had written for Camel was accepted for inclusion on the new album. He subsequently launched a solo career and recorded his first solo album Labyrinth (with Coco Roussel on drums) in 1980. Even though Watkins was no longer a member of Camel, he returned temporarily for their two major tours of England and Europe in 1981 (Nude tour) and 1982 (The Single Factor tour). Watkins released his second album, Frames of Mind, in 1982 with Brad Allen on guitars and vocals. The album was a fun and quirky mix of new wave pop and hybrid world music, recorded at Watkins' home studio in Arlington, Virginia and released on his label, Azimuth Records. The duo created a music video of the song "My Telephone" which was shown throughout the United States on cable television. Azimuth also released demo tapes of Happy The Man produced by Kit Watkins and recorded during its last year, under the title Better late... On his next release Watkins again worked with Roussel, Happy The Man's third drummer and Watkins' sideman for the duo's live performances in the early 1980s. The album, Kit & Coco In Time was released in 1985]and delved into both new and familiar territory - a mix of progressive, jazz fusion, and contemplative styles - and was critically acclaimed by reviewers and fans alike. Additionally, Watkins briefly formed an improvisational trio in early 2001 called Tone Ghost Ether with musicians Brad Allen and John Tlusty. The group has released four CDs. The trio focused on recording "live" in Watkins' performance studio, in the tradition of jazz groups of the past, without overdubs (although looping machines were used). Watkins currently abstains from touring and devotes most of his available time to studio recording, except for the rare live performance. His ambient works have become staples on National Public Radio's Hearts of Space. Reviewers and fans have compared his work to Brian Eno, Mark Isham, Steve Roach, Harold Budd, Jeff Greinke, and others.