Archive for the Billy COBHAM Category

Billy COBHAM – Palindrome 2010

Posted in Billy COBHAM, JAZZ on December 14, 2010 by whoisthemonk

Billy COBHAM – Palindrome 2010


There are some musicians who can look forward while looking back, though they are few and far between. Master drummer, composer, and arranger Billy Cobham is one of them. Palindrome continues to reflect the endless, restless search for new modes of expression and technical facility that have been a hallmark of his career. That said, like its predecessor, 2008’s Fruit of the Loom, which featured a radical reworking of the title cuts from Spectrum and Crosswind, this set revisits four earlier compositions and contains six new ones. Cobham sees these two albums as part of a multi-volume continuum that combines his reflections on previous musical experiences as they intersect with his current modes of thinking — that thinking here is jazz-rock. This set is structured with older works radically revisioned with more contemporary — though no less adventurous — arrangements, followed by five new tunes, followed by two more older pieces, and ending with a final current track. The reworking of “Moon Germs” from 1975’s Total Eclipse is a revelation of things to come with knotty horn lines — by a section that includes Ernie Watts meeting Jean-Marie Ecay’s taut guitar lines, layered organ and synth tracks underscored by mallet instruments and Latin percussion and pulled together by a monstrously funky bassline from Fifi Chayeb, and Cobham’s breaks and rim shots; the track is familiar but feels brand new. Likewise with the gorgeous world music-feel of “Two for Juan,” originally on Picture This. The doubled basslines, Latin percussion, layered synths, violin solo, and Cobham’s monstrous attack lead the changes through twists and turns reminiscent of Frank Zappa’s compositions. The new pieces “Obliquely Speaking” (a purposeful update and continuation of the themes in “Two for Juan”) and “Cancun Market” use a steel pan, bringing more Latin and Caribbean touches to the popping, exotic meld of jazz changes and rock dynamics. “Torpedo Flo” has a gorgeously complex yet breezy melody that runs through the various harmonic and rhythmic complexities and contains soul aplenty. Other early tunes such as “Mirage” (from Focused) and “Alpha Waves” (from The Traveler) are such canny updates that while their origins lie in the earlier fusion era, their facility is pure 21st century. Palindrome not only succeeds, but goes further than Fruit of the Loom in realizing a new music built on older compositional structures and production techniques; it creates a startlingly fresh jazz-rock fusion.
By Thom Jurek. AMG.
Drummer Billy Cobham has performed with a variety of musicians throughout his career. Former employers include hard bop pianist Horace Silver, tenor saxophonist Stanley Turrentine, and smooth jazz guitarist George Benson.  Cobham has also appeared with the Grateful Dead and the Saturday Night Live Band.  While he has encountered numerous ensembles and genres in the past half century, the Percussive Arts Society Hall of Fame inductee is best known for his abilities in a fusion setting.  Cobham’s 2010 release, Palindrome (Multimedia Concepts), is further evidence supporting this case.

The album opens with an updated arrangement of Cobham’s “Moon Germs,” originally released in 1975 on the Total Eclipse record.  With its funky bassline, solid pocket, and tight horn lines, this track is a suitable microcosm for a majority of the album.  “Moon Germs’” use of guitar and keyboard riffs is another common thread within Cobham’s arrangements.  “Two For Juan,” revisited from 1987’s Picture This, opens with a driving theme played over the drummer’s relentless backbeat.  The combination of instrumentation and melodic material produce a theme suitable for an action sequence on Miami Vice.  The tune takes a different direction as keyboardist Christophe Cravero and trombonist Marshall Gilkes take turns blowing over an interlude prior to the return of the initial groove and guitar solo.  A mountain climb toward the original theme ensues, not complete without some space for Cobham.  “Obliquely Speaking” is one of five new compositions on the album, though it bares multiple similarities to “Two For Juan.”  The use of steel pan adds a tropical flavor to this track.

Billy CobhamBy the fourth tune, “Isle of Skye,” the ensemble sound is firmly in place.  Listeners know what to expect at this point, and those in search of groove-oriented music with a Latin tinge will not be disappointed.  This second new composition on Palindrome offers a few calming moments when the music breathes a relaxing sigh.  “A Day’s Grace,” from 1981’s Flight Time, begins softly before giving way to the straight-eight feel that propels the tune.  Guitar, keyboard, and violin all receive solo space before the melody returns.  Percussionist Marco Lobo adds some tasteful rhythms to the conclusion.  Riff-based “Mirage” is reminiscent of the Dave Weckl Band with shades of Dave Holland with Billy Kilson, and even recordings of Michel Camilo.  It was originally recorded on the Focused album in 1997.

A close listen to “Cancun Market” reveals the level of intricacy that encompasses many of the melodies Cobham composes.  Nearly two minutes of syncopated rhythms comprise the head and give way to a steel pan solo played by Wilbert Gill.  Guitar and keyboard solos follow thereafter, prior to the head out.  “Torpedo Flo” is in six and morphs through a variety of grooves and feels in that time signature.  Trombonist Gilkes returns for a tasteful ride over Cobham’s relaxed, pseudo-samba feel that continues during the keyboard solo, as well.  “Alfa Waves,” originally from 1995’s The Traveler, is a samba in three and features the “string” section of the group.  Bassist Philippe Chayeb, who is solid throughout the entire album, opens the blowing and is followed by violin and guitar solos.  It should be noted that the violin parts are played by keyboardist Cravero.  Interestingly, this tune is placed directly after the only other tune in three (or six) on the record.  “Saippuakivikauppias,” the palindrome song, concludes the album.  The catch here is that, like the title, the tune is the same forward and backward.

Billy Cobham’s Palindrome looks into the past while moving forward with contemporary ideas.  There is no denying the drummer’s ability to play in the pocket, and with this release, he has made clear his musical preferences as they stand in 2010.

Reid Kennedy is a drummer, composer and educator based in the Twin Cities.
By Reid J. Kennedy.
I have quite a few of Billy’s albums , on vinyl and cd, and remember seeing hime live in the late sixties, when he was truly a phenominal power drummer. Since then he has rediscovered his Panamanian roots and produced some excellent latin sounds. But this – oh dear – which decade is this? Seventies eighties fusion? Few albums from this period still sound fresh today – mostly they sound horribly dated like big hair and platform shoes. Any minute I expect David Sanborn’s yaktey-sax, or worse, Jan Hammer with some endless solo-ing “funky” screeching on the Oberheim synthesiser to step in.

Billy is a great drummer. Perhaps not Jack Dejohnette, Anthony Williams, or Tony Allen, but could be up there. He needs to grasp that the place of the drummer has changed. The drumkit is a musical instrument pitched against the drum-machine, that a real human being does a better job of making music than sample drumbeat tape-loops. He needs to find a place in “new” music collaborating with other instruments creative soundscapes and new-jazz drive like reinvented John Mclaughlin’s Fourth Dimension, or Jeff Ballard weaving into the sinuos melodic jazz of Avishai Cohen and Chick Corea.

This is a huge mistake of an album. Does Billy know? Does he care? I suspect not. Clocks only move in one direction Billy – forward. This album is like a clock moving back. It doesn’t work.
By Andrew.
Billy Cobham- (Drums);
Ernie Watts- (Woodwinds),
Michael Rodriguez- (Trumpet),
Marshall Gilkes- (Trombone),
Jean-Marie Ecay, Dean Brown- (Guitars),
Philippe Chayeb -(Bass),
Wilbert ‘Junior Gill- (Steel Pan, Vibraphone)
Christophe Cravero- (Keyboards and Violin);
Marco Lobo- (Percussion)
01. Moon Germs (6:02)
02. Two For Juan (9:37)
03. Obliquely Speaking (6:16)
04. Isle Of Skye (7:18)
05. A Days Grace (8:11)
06. Mirage (7:36)
07. Cancun Market (8:22)
08. Torpedo Flo (8:28)
09. Alfa Waves (6:49)
10. Saippuakivikauppias (7:21)

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Billy COBHAM – The Art Of Three, Live In Japan 2003

Posted in Billy COBHAM, JAZZ on November 19, 2010 by whoisthemonk

Billy COBHAM – The Art Of Three, Live In Japan 2003


The Art of Three were a trio of all-stars (drummer Billy Cobham, pianist Kenny Barron, and bassist Ron Carter) assembled for a 2003 tour of Japan, with two recordings made on consecutive nights at the Hyatt Regency Osaka in Japan. This second volume primarily focuses on familiar standards and landmark jazz compositions, with all three musicians soloing with their typical strength and engaging in lively ensemble work as well. A powerful interpretation of Thelonious Monk’s “I Mean You” is a fitting introduction to the second night’s concert, with each man sharing the spotlight equally. Carter’s delicate “New Waltz” is a subtle masterpiece, while Barron’s “And Then Again” is a playful bluesy calypso. Wrapping the evening is a dramatic take of “‘Round Midnight.” While the music is enjoyable, the engineering is a tad frustrating in spots, with the bass being so bright in the mix that it creates a bit of distortion.
By Ken Dryden, All Music Guide.
Kenny Barron- Piano
Ron Carter- Bass
Billy Cobham- Drums
01. Mean You 7:43
02. Bouncing with Bud 7:33
03. Autumn Leaves 9:46
04. Out of Nowhere 7:40
05. Body & Soul 12:21
06. Stella by Starlight 10:02
07. Round Midnight 10:58
08. Tour de Force 8:26

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Billy COBHAM’s Glass Menagerie – Stratus 1981

Posted in Billy COBHAM, JAZZ on November 17, 2010 by whoisthemonk

Billy COBHAM’s Glass Menagerie – Stratus 1981
Recorded 18 March, 1981 at Studio 1, CBS, London.
2006 Issue.


This is the companion disc to Flight Time, which was also recorded for the Inakustik label. While not quite as original as its predecessor, it is still highly recommended. A young Mike Stern had not completely developed his sound yet, but he’s still unmistakable. Violinist Michal Urbaniak’s presence gives Cobham classics like “Stratus,” “AC/DC,” and “Total Eclipse” a fresh sound. Here again, Cobham is more than willing to let his colleagues step to the forefront and offer up their unique ideas, some better than other (Gil Goldstein’s “Wrapped in a Cloud” is enchanting while Landers’ reggae offering, “All Hallows Eve,” falls flat). The biggest disappointment here are the short song lengths, especially the early fadeout on “Brooze,” but hearing Cobham and Stern together make this an essential recording for jazz-rock fans.
By Robert Taylor, All Music Guide.
Michal Urbaniak- Saxophone, Vocals, Lyricon, Violone, Violin (Electric)
Mike Stern- Guitar
Gil Goldstein- Keyboards,
Tim Landers- Electric Bass
Billy Cobham- Drums
01. Drum-Solo Intro, Stratus  4:36
02. AC/DC  3:59
03. Kasia  4:08
04. All Hallows Eve  3:17
05. Wrapped In A Cloud  6:26
06. Drum-Solo  3:26
07. Total Eclipse  4:11
08. Brooze  3:52

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