Thursday, June 25, 2009

Jimmy Cobb !!!

Last evening I had the opportunity to see one of my jazz drumming heroes, Jimmy Cobb and his "Kind of Blue" tribute band at the Calgary Jazz Festival. The group featured an A-list of performers including the legendary Jimmy Cobb on drums, Wallace Roney (trpt), Vincent Herring (alto), Javon Jackson (tenor), John Webber (bass) and Larry Willis (piano).

The group performed all the material from the seminal Miles Davis album "Kind of Blue" (which is currently celebrating its 50th anniversary). The band played great and captured the essence the Miles Davis sextet without having to resort to soley recreating the music from the album note for note.

In particular, Vincent Herring on alto saxophone really stood out as did bassist John Webber who, apparently, was a last minute sub for an ill Buster Williams!

Jimmy Cobb swung hard, as usual, and demonstrated a sense of swing and taste that has become his trademark during his past 80 years.

Specifically I was impressed with Cobb's pointed quarter note feel on his left ride cymbal and the occasional crossstick on beat 4, which of course has defined his classic feel. His hook up with the pianist was also a lesson in comping and a text book example of how a drummer and piano player can work together in backing up a soloist.

I was quite lucky as I was sitting in the 2nd row right in front of the drums. As close to a drum lesson with Mr. Cobb as I'll ever get !

Here's some rare footage of Cobb propelling the Miles Davis sextet on the classic tune "So What".

Some of my favorite recordings with Jimmy Cobb include:

Wes Montgomery "Smokin' at the Half Note"

Art Pepper "Gettin' Together"

"Cannonball and Coltrane"
(check out the groove on "Limehouse Blues" Whooooaaaa !!!)

Joe Henderson "Four"
(one of my favorite drum solos EVER is on this album)

Actually, there are just way too many great Jimmy Cobb albums to mention here (!) but those are a few that immediately come to mind.

And of course there are all the great albums he recorded with Miles Davis."Live at Newport" and "Live at the Blackhawk" are a couple that particularly stand out.
(Thanks to LP Jazz columnist Rob Vanstone for turning me onto that one!)

Here's a recording of the blues "Pfrancing" from the album "Someday My Prince Will Come". Dig the way that rhythm section of Cobb, Wynton Kelly (piano) and Paul Chambers (bass) really make this one cook.

Fortunately, Jimmy Cobb has been around a long time but its only been in the last few years that has he stepped out as a leader. I don't believe he recorded an album under his own name until the 1990s !

Here's a couple of more recent clips of Jimmy Cobb swingin' hard.

Thanks to an understanding volunteer at the Calgary Jazz Festival, I was able to sneak backstage after the performance and get Jimmy Cobb to sign one of my ride cymbals.

Our meeting went something like this:

Me: Mr. Cobb, I'd be honored if you'd sign my cymbal.

JC: Hey that's not a bad idea. I should have asked Papa Jo Jones to do that when I used to follow him around !

Hmmm....this is a nice cymbal. Are you sure you want me to get it all dirty with this pen ?

Me: Of course !

JC: Oh okay. Just don't sell it on ebay.

Me: You don't have to worry about that.... : )

Dear Mr. Cobb,

Thank you for a lifetime of great music !

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