Cobham performing at WOMAD in July 2005
|Birth name||William Emanuel Cobham Jr.|
|Born||May 16, 1944|
|Occupation(s)||Musician, songwriter, bandleader, educator|
|Labels||Atlantic, Columbia, CTI, Elektra, GRP|
|Associated acts||Miles Davis, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Jack Bruce, New York Jazz Quartet, Jazz Is Dead, Bobby and the Midnites, Mark-Almond|
William Emanuel Cobham Jr. (born May 16, 1944) is a Panamanian-American jazz drummer who came to prominence in the late 1960s and early 1970s with trumpeter Miles Davis and then with the Mahavishnu Orchestra. According to AllMusic's reviewer, Cobham is "generally acclaimed as fusion's greatest drummer".
Jazz is a music genre that originated in the African-American communities of New Orleans, United States. It originated in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and developed from roots in blues and ragtime. Jazz is seen by many as "America's classical music". Since the 1920s Jazz Age, jazz has become recognized as a major form of musical expression. It then emerged in the form of independent traditional and popular musical styles, all linked by the common bonds of African-American and European-American musical parentage with a performance orientation. Jazz is characterized by swing and blue notes, call and response vocals, polyrhythms and improvisation. Jazz has roots in West African cultural and musical expression, and in African-American music traditions including blues and ragtime, as well as European military band music. Intellectuals around the world have hailed jazz as "one of America's original art forms".
Miles Dewey Davis III was an American jazz trumpeter, bandleader, and composer. He is among the most influential and acclaimed figures in the history of jazz and 20th century music. Davis adopted a variety of musical directions in a five-decade career that kept him at the forefront of many major stylistic developments in jazz.
Mahavishnu Orchestra were a jazz fusion band formed in New York City in 1971 by English guitarist John McLaughlin. The band underwent several line-up changes throughout its history across two stints from 1971 to 1976 and 1984 to 1987. With its first line-up consisting of musicians Billy Cobham, Jan Hammer, Jerry Goodman and Rick Laird, the band received its initial acclaims for its complex, intense music consisting of a blend of Indian classical music, jazz and psychedelic rock, and their dynamic live performances between 1971 and 1973.
He was inducted into the Modern Drummer Hall of Fame in 1987and the Classic Drummer Hall of Fame in 2013.
Modern Drummer is a monthly publication targeting the interests of drummers and percussionists. The magazine features interviews, equipment reviews, and columns offering advice on technique, as well as information for the general public. Modern Drummer is also available on the internet.
Born in Colón, Panama, Cobham moved with his family to Brooklyn, New York, when he was three. His father worked as a hospital statistician during the week and played piano on weekends. Cobham started on drums at age four and joined his father four years later. When he was fourteen, he got his first drum kit as a gift after being accepted to The High School of Music & Art in New York City.He was drafted in 1965, and for the next three years he played with a U.S. Army band.
Colón is a city and sea port in Panama, beside the Caribbean Sea, lying near the Atlantic entrance to the Panama Canal. It is the capital of Panama's Colón Province and has traditionally been known as Panama's second city. Originally it was located entirely on Manzanillo Island, surrounded by Limon Bay, Manzanillo Bay and the Folks River; however, since the disestablishment of the Panama Canal Zone, the city's limits have been redefined to include Fort Gulick, a former U.S. Army base, as well the former Canal Zone towns of Cristobal, Margarita and Coco Solo.
After his discharge, he became a member of Horace Silver's quintet. He played an early model electric drum kit given to him by Tama Drums. He was a house drummer for Atlantic Records and a session musician for CTI and Kudu, appearing on the albums White Rabbit by George Benson, Sunflower by Milt Jackson, and Soul Box by Grover Washington Jr.
Horace Ward Martin Tavares Silver was an American jazz pianist, composer, and arranger, particularly in the hard bop style that he helped pioneer in the 1950s.
Tama Drums, is a brand of drum kits and hardware manufactured and marketed by the Japanese musical instrument company, Hoshino Gakki. Tama's research and development of products, along with production of its professional and most expensive drums, is done in Seto, Japan, while its hardware and less expensive drums are manufactured in Guangzhou, China. Hoshino has several offices around the world for marketing and wholesale distribution. Drums destined for the U.S. market are assembled and stocked at Hoshino (U.S.A.) in Bensalem, Pennsylvania. The U.S. subsidiary also contributes to Tama's market research and development.
Atlantic Recording Corporation is an American record label founded in October 1947 by Ahmet Ertegün and Herb Abramson. Over its first 20 years of operation, Atlantic earned a reputation as one of the most important American labels, specializing in jazz, R&B, and soul by Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, Wilson Pickett, Sam and Dave, Ruth Brown and Otis Redding. Its position was greatly improved by its distribution deal with Stax. In 1967, Atlantic became a wholly owned subsidiary of Warner Bros.-Seven Arts, now the Warner Music Group, and expanded into rock and pop music with releases by Led Zeppelin and Yes.
Cobham started the jazz rock group Dreams with Michael Brecker, Randy Brecker, and John Abercrombie.He moved further into jazz fusion when he toured with Miles Davis and recorded Davis's albums Bitches Brew and A Tribute to Jack Johnson . In 1971, he and guitarist John McLaughlin left Davis to start the Mahavishnu Orchestra, another group that fused rock, funk, and jazz. Cobham toured extensively from 1971 to 1973 with the Mahavishnu Orchestra, which released two studio albums, The Inner Mounting Flame (1971) and Birds of Fire (1973), and one live album, Between Nothingness & Eternity (1973). The studio versions of songs on the live album were released on The Lost Trident Sessions (1999).
Dreams was one of the original prominent jazz rock bands in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The band was formed by Jeff Kent and Doug Lubahn, who wrote and arranged their songs. It began as a trio and evolved into a horn-based band over time. They were later joined by Will Lee, Don Grolnick, Bob Mann, and Eddie Vernon.
Michael Leonard Brecker was an American jazz saxophonist and composer. He was awarded 15 Grammy Awards as both performer and composer. He was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from Berklee College of Music in 2004, and was inducted into the Down Beat Jazz Hall of Fame in 2007.
Randal Edward Brecker is an American trumpeter, flugelhornist, and composer. His versatility has made him a popular studio musician who has recorded with acts in jazz, rock, and R&B.
Cobham's debut album, Spectrum (1973), surprised him and his record company when it reached No. 1 on the Billboard magazine Jazz Albums chart and No. 26 on the Top 200 Albums chart.
Spectrum is the debut solo album by jazz fusion drummer Billy Cobham. The album was heavily influenced by the music of Miles Davis, with whom Cobham had previously collaborated extensively, and Cobham's previous band Mahavishnu Orchestra.
In 1980, he worked with Jack Bruce in Jack Bruce & Friends. On October 30, 1980, he joined the Grateful Dead during the band's concert at Radio City Music Hall. He performed a long drum solo session with the band's two percussionists, Bill Kreutzmann and Mickey Hart, also known as the Rhythm Devils. In 1981, Billy Cobham's Glass Menagerie was formed with Michał Urbaniak on violin and EWI, Gil Goldstein on piano, Tim Landers on bass, and Mike Stern on guitar. Dean Brown replaced Stern when he left to play with Miles Davis. Glass Menagerie released two albums for Elektra Musician.
In 1984, he played in the band Bobby and the Midnites, a side project for Bob Weir of the Grateful Dead, with Bobby Cochran and Kenny Gradney, and recorded the album Where the Beat Meets the Street .
In 1994, he joined an all-star cast Greek Theatre in Los Angeles and the results appeared on the album Stanley Clarke, Larry Carlton, Billy Cobham, Najee and Deron Johnson Live at the Greek. The concert was predominantly Clarke's music, but all the musicians contributed material.
In 2006, Cobham released Drum 'n' Voice 2, a return to the 1970s jazz-funk sound, with guests including Brian Auger, Guy Barker, Jeff Berlin, Frank Gambale, Jan Hammer, Mike Lindup, Buddy Miles, Dominic Miller, Airto Moreira, John Patitucci, and the band Novecento. The album was produced and arranged by Pino and Lino Nicolosi for Nicolosi Productions. In 2009, he released Drum 'n Voice 3. Guests included Alex Acuña, Brian Auger, George Duke, Chaka Khan, Bob Mintzer, Novecento, John Scofield, and Gino Vannelli.
In December 2011, Cobham began teaching drums online at the Billy Cobham School of Drums, a school in the ArtistWorks Drum Academy.
Cobham moved to Switzerland in 1985.
Many musicians have cited Cobham as an influence, including Kenny Aronoff,Steve Arrington, Ranjit Barot, Danny Carey, Jimmy Chamberlin, Dennis Chambers, Brann Dailor, Matt Garstka, Chris Hornbrook, Thomas Lang, Mac McNeilly, OM, Opeth, Chris Pennie Mike Portnoy, Thomas Pridgen, Sivamani, Bill Stevenson, Jon Theodore, and Tony Thompson.
In addition, other musicians have been quoted expressing admiration for his work, including Steven Wilson,and Dave Bainbridge.
James Joseph Chamberlin is an American drummer and record producer. He is best known as the drummer for the alternative rock band The Smashing Pumpkins. Following the 2000 breakup of the band, Chamberlin joined Pumpkins frontman Billy Corgan in the supergroup Zwan and also formed his own group, the Jimmy Chamberlin Complex. In 2005, Chamberlin joined Corgan in reforming The Smashing Pumpkins; he eventually left the group in March 2009, though he returned again in 2015 for a summer tour. He performed in the group Skysaw until 2012. He is currently active under the Jimmy Chamberlin Complex name. In addition to his current work as CEO, Chamberlin has joined Chicago jazz saxophonist Frank Catalano for a string of 2013–15 performances in the Chicago area. An EP by Catalano and Chamberlin Love Supreme Collective - EP was released on July 29, 2014.
John Scofield, often referred to as "Sco", is an American jazz-rock guitarist and composer whose playing spans bebop, jazz fusion, funk, blues, soul, and rock.
Jazz fusion is a music genre that developed in the late 1960s when musicians combined jazz harmony and improvisation with rock music, funk, and rhythm and blues. Electric guitars, amplifiers, and keyboards that were popular in rock and roll started to be used by jazz musicians, particularly those who had grown up listening to rock and roll.
Armando Anthony "Chick" Corea is an American jazz pianist/electric keyboardist and composer. His compositions "Spain", "500 Miles High", "La Fiesta" and "Windows", are considered jazz standards. As a member of Miles Davis's band in the late 1960s, he participated in the birth of jazz fusion. In the 1970s he formed the fusion band Return to Forever. With Herbie Hancock, McCoy Tyner, and Keith Jarrett, he has been described as one of the major jazz piano voices to emerge in the post-John Coltrane era.
John McLaughlin, also known as Mahavishnu John McLaughlin, is an English guitarist, bandleader and composer. His music includes many genres of jazz, combined with elements of rock, Indian classical music, Western classical music, flamenco, and blues. He is one of the pioneering figures in fusion.
William Scott Bruford is an English retired drummer, percussionist, songwriter, producer, and record label owner who first gained prominence as the original drummer of the rock band Yes, from 1968 to 1972 and again from 1990 to 1992. After his departure from Yes, Bruford spent the rest of the 1970s playing in King Crimson, touring with Genesis and U.K., and eventually forming his own group, Bruford.
Bernard "Buddy" Rich was an American jazz drummer and bandleader. He is considered one of the most influential drummers of all time and was known for his virtuoso technique, power, and speed. He performed with Tommy Dorsey, Harry James and Count Basie, and led a big band.
Birds of Fire is the second studio album by American jazz fusion band the Mahavishnu Orchestra. It was released on January 3, 1973 by Columbia Records and is the last studio album released by the original band line-up before it dissolved.
The Inner Mounting Flame is the debut studio album by multinational jazz-rock fusion band Mahavishnu Orchestra, released in August 1971 by Columbia Records. After their formation, the group performed several debut gigs before they entered the studio to record their first album featuring all original material written by guitarist John McLaughlin.
Jerry Goodman is an American violinist who played electric violin with The Flock and the jazz fusion ensemble Mahavishnu Orchestra.
Dennis Milton Chambers is an American drummer. He was inducted into the Modern Drummer Hall of Fame in 2001.
Jon Philip Theodore is an American drummer. He is best known as a former member of The Mars Volta and as the current drummer for Queens of the Stone Age. Theodore is also a member of One Day as a Lion.
The Lost Trident Sessions is a studio album by jazz fusion group the Mahavishnu Orchestra, released on 21 September 1999 through Sony Music Entertainment. It was originally recorded in June 1973 at Trident Studios but was not released until 26 years later. According to the album's detailed liner notes, in November 1998 Columbia Records producer Bob Belden stumbled upon two quarter-inch tapes in Columbia's Los Angeles vault whilst gathering material for a remastered reissue of the Mahavishnu Orchestra's 1973 album Birds of Fire. The tapes were otherwise unlabelled besides the recording location, but upon further inspection, they were revealed to be the two-track mixes for what would have been the Mahavishnu Orchestra's third studio album at the time.
Gary Husband is an English jazz and rock drummer, pianist, and bandleader. He is best known for his emotive and dynamic style on both his primary instruments, the keyboards and the drums. He is also a composer, arranger and producer.
Jazz is Dead is an instrumental Grateful Dead cover band that interprets classic Dead songs with jazz influences. The group is notable in featuring veterans of jazz and jazz fusion ensembles. The group's composition has changed over time, and T Lavitz was the band's only constant member until they reformed in 2015.
Mahavishnu is an album by the Mahavishnu Orchestra, released in 1984 by Warner Bros. Records. During the 1980s, John McLaughlin reformed the Mahavishnu Orchestra for release of the two albums Mahavishnu and Adventures in Radioland. This band's overall sound was radically different from the original Mahavishnu Orchestra, in particular because of McLaughlin's extensive use of the Synclavier synthesiser system. This album features original Mahavishnu Orchestra drummer Billy Cobham.
Between Nothingness & Eternity is the first live album by jazz fusion band Mahavishnu Orchestra, released on November 1973 by Columbia Records. According to the Mahavishnu Orchestra Gigs listing by Walter Kolosky, it was recorded live at the Schaefer Music Festival, held in Central Park, New York on August 17 and 18, 1973, even though available recordings seem to prove that all of the material from the album was actually taken from the second night only. Originally, Mahavishnu Orchestra's third album was to be a studio one, recorded in June 1973 at Trident Studios in London, but was scrapped during the final days of the project; the live album, containing versions of three out of the original six tracks, was released instead as the last album during the period of the original line-up of the band. The original studio album was later released in 1999 as The Lost Trident Sessions.
Bobby and the Midnites was a rock group led by Bob Weir of the Grateful Dead. The band was Weir's main side project during the first half of the 1980s. They released two albums, but were better known for their live concerts than for their work in the recording studio. With a rhythm section that included jazz veterans Billy Cobham and, for a time, Alphonso Johnson, Bobby and the Midnites played rock music that was influenced by jazz-rock fusion.
When I first started playing with Mellencamp, I was trying to be Billy Cobham. [...]
I had no respect whatsoever for simple rock and roll drumming, I only liked heavy fusion and technical drumming like Billy Cobham [...]
[...] When I heard Cobham play, and I tell you this in retrospect: I'm a fan of every drummer on this planet. I think there are so many, so many great drummers out there that it's hard to create a list. But Cobham is a pioneer, for sure. Cobham is the closest I've heard a drummer playing with an Indian soul. He had the whole speech thing down. [...] Cobham, when he played, I could hear him talk. His snare drum, that's the heart of his language. He really had this speech happening on the kit. That's what stopped me in my tracks. Because I'd been listening to tabla players, and I said, Hold on. This guy, he understands. He understands where this whole thing is coming from. So he was probably the first big influence. And I just love everything he's done, man.
[...] I drew my influences from some of the more jazzier guys like Billy Cobham (John McLaughlin's Mahavishnu Orchestra, Miles Davis) [...]
Dennis Chambers: I keep my ideas fresh when I listen to people like Vinnie Colaiuta, Gary Husband, Lenny White and Billy Cobham
You must have a big list of drummer influences.
Brann Dailor: [...] for jazz, Elvin Jones, Tony Williams, and Billy Cobham [...]
Emil Amos: [...] Musically, when we first met, the three things that we immediately in conversation bonded on was dub, Pink Floyd, and Billy Cobham, the great drummer.
Al Cisneros: [...] I think I was 17. I was at a friend's house and he was saying, 'I can't believe you haven't heard this.' Put it on, put it on. It was "Inner Mounting Flame," and on the song, "Awakening" the break with Billy Cobham on the kit...He throws down this one break after McLaughlin subsides these chords. It was so decisive that we just got up and left the room. There was no point in continuing conversation. It was done. That evening had been closed by that drumbeat. And to this day I think that in terms of drumming, "Inner Mounting Flame" with Cobham is Mount Olympus. There's nothing more. It's all. Saying Billy Cobham is a great drummer is like saying the sun's bright, but...I don't even know what to say about Mahavishnu. It was so humbling. It was an epiphany to hear the potential of these musicians and their conviction. Hearing something like that can make you feel like you've just been messing around in a sandbox your whole life.
There's an obvious fusion feel to a lot of the material on Heritage. Where did that come from?
Mikael Akerfeldt: [...] the fusion aspect comes from Mahavishnu Orchestra, Billy Cobham... [...]
Q: Which players have most influenced that aspect of your style, especially with respect to the polyrhythms?
Chris Pennie: [...] Billy Cobham from the Mahavishnu Orchestra are important influences.
[...] when I was growing up played with so many different types of people, and did so many different styles. Everyone from Billy Cobham to Art Blakey [...]
I play drums as well, and I sometimes feel like it's almost impossible for a drummer to be truly great at playing both rock and jazz. Do you think you have to pick one of the two and focus on that?
Bill Stevenson: I think so. What I was trying to do was to be both. I reckon Billy Cobham is maybe the closest: He's the everyman's drummer, like he can playing everything better than everyone. And I felt like I was heading that directionmaybe I wanted to be Billy. [...]
I have to say that my all-time favorite guy ever is Billy Cobham. I even listen to The Traveler and Power Play, his '80s records. [...] I'm totally infatuated with him. I love the way he plays and I think it's so natural, powerful and dynamic at the same time. I pattern a lot of stuff after him.
[...] I would go down to 7th Ave. South. That was a club in New York City that The Brecker Brothers used to own. [...] I saw Billy Cobham for the first time and saw God. When they broke into "The Inner Mounting Flame," it was the most awesome performance I've ever seen in my life. My God, it's still embedded in my soul seeing him play like that. To have that command and power plus his chops were just super-human. Before that, I'd never seen anyone like Billy Cobham.
[...] Listen to Billy Cobham on a Mahavishnu Orchestra album. It's like a juggernaut heading towards a cliff edge. It has a feeling of momentum and rushing towards something.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Billy Cobham .|