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Sunday, January 20, 2013

CD Review: Billy Cobham - Warner's Original Album Series.

(Review by Steve Horowitz.)
In 1973 after working with Miles Davis and being a founding member of John McLaughlin’s Mahavishnu Orchestra Cobham formed his own Jazz Rock Funk Fusion band. This budget box series covers the five albums recorded between 1973 and 1975 and is a real treat for anyone who is either an aficionado of this genre or a drumoholic like myself.

Spectrum (1973) is Cobham’s debut album as band leader and features future Deep Purple guitarist Tommy Brolin and  Jan Hammer on keyboards. Not surprisingly this is the most rock orientated album in the collection.
The second album Crosswinds (1974) sees Cobham joined by guitarist John Abercrombie, the Brecker Brothers and George Duke on keyboards. The track The Pleasant Pheasant is Jazz Funk at its best with a great Michael Brecker tenor solo. The following track, Heather, featuring George Duke and Michael Brecker  is a beautiful ambient mellow piece.
Total Eclipse(1974) has George Duke replaced by Milcho Leviev on keyboards (first known to me as the piano player on the great Art Pepper album Blues for the Fishermen) Alex Blake is  on bass and there's some great trombone work by Glen Ferris and lots of raunchy guitar from Abercrombie plus the Breckers excel as usual. The final track Last Frontier encompasses a memorable drum solo by the great man.
Shabazz (1974) - recorded live - is full of mighty pumping fusion and great solo’s from the personnel featured in Total Eclipse.
The collection concludes with A Funky Thide of Sings (1975) and features John Scofield on guitar. This, as the title suggests, is the most funk orientated album but just as enjoyable as the others, there is even a Keith Jarrett composition, Sorcery to enjoy and a memorable extended drum solo on A Funky Kind of Thing. The album closes with a Leviev tune Moody Modes.  More jazzy and less funky with some great bass work by Alex Blake.
All in all a great collection with my own personal favourite being Crosswinds and of course a special mention must be made of Billy Cobham’s fabulous drumming throughout - a true master.
Billy Cobham - Warner's Original Album Series. Is released on Monday January 21, 2013.
Steve.

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