Touched by Jimmy Cobb

Scott K Fish

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SKF NOTE: It's funny how musical energy and communication moves, travels invisibly.

Two days ago, May 23, I came across my digital copy of Miles Davis's In Person Friday and Saturday Nights at the Blackhawk, Complete. My Macbook Pro had the set in a folder named Compilations, not in my Miles Davis folder. I immediately loaded Disc 1 onto my MP3 player.

Recorded live on April 21 and 22, 1961, In Person...at the Blackhawk is among my favorite Miles albums. Hank Mobley is on tenor sax - which makes this version of Miles's band unique. The rhythm section is Wynton Kelly (piano), Paul Chambers (bass), and Jimmy Cobb on drums.

Right off the bat, Disc 1 Track 1, Sonny Rollins's tune Oleo, the whole band takes off running as smooth as a Ferrari. A perfect rhythm section. And there's Jimmy Cobb with his musical, slick use of brushes, motorvatin' (to steal Chuck Berry's lyric) the entire Quintet forward.

I listen close, admiring how the rhythm section sticks to the basics. Nobody's showboating, each note, each chord is exactly right. Jimmy Cobb swings throughout, a lesson in the difficult art of playing simple. Knowing instinctively when one note is better than two.

This morning, May 25, I see Christian McBride's Tweet: "Sir Jimmy Cobb. You swung loving energy to everyone. We will always love you. RIP."

It has long seemed to me that when the soul, the spirit of a great musician is transitioning to the spirit world from this world, they reach out with a burst of energy, a parting thank you reminder to everyone they touched while on Earth.

Thank you, Jimmy Cobb. https://scottkfish.com/2020/05/25/touched-by-jimmy-cobb/
 
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NobleCooleyNut

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Underrated is how I would have characterized him as well . He had such a beautiful touch on the drums and cymbals . Another Giant gone .
 

Seb77

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His playing has a down-to earth quality, a masterful simplicity. I freely admit I didn't get this early on, but came to appreciate it more and more. He took his role in the band seriously, taking care of time and sound, mood/atmosphere,swing/drive/energy, without any flash. A musical caretaker in the best sense.
 

Johnny K

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His dynamics, touch and musicality are without peer. He never overplayed and always served the song. Kinda Blue would be a lesser jazz record without him.
 
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Not underrated to the ones who mattered. Jimmy's peers and fellow musicians considered him to be Jazz Royalty, and so do I. Throughout the years I saw him quite a few times with Nat Adderley, The Miles Four, Cobb's Mob..... I had a few nice conversations with him too, we always talked about doing an interview, but it never happened.

He was part of one of the greatest rhythm sections of all time (regardless of genre.) Wynton Kelley, Paul Chambers, and Jimmy Cobb laid down the magic carpet for so many bandleaders and soloists, it's just unbelievable.

Scott, that is fascinating that that happened to you. Those Blackhawk recordings are jazz perfection to me, even more so than Kind of Blue. When the complete set came out, I FREAKED out!!!!

Strangely, a similar thing happened to me a few weeks ago. Standing in my music library, I just (blindly) reached for Sarah Vaughn "Live in Japan," which was a Bible for me for a long time, just perfection. I listened to it so much many years ago that I just had to stop, I have most of it memorized. But I have been listening to it (again,) for the last few weeks, it's a joyous record, and God knows we all needed some joy in the last few months. The drummer is... (you guessed it) Jimmy Cobb. Jimmy revered Sarah, as did many others, and he told me his 10 years (or so) of playing with her was a highlight of his life.

One of the highlights of my life was sitting with Al Foster and Jimmy on Al's porch just talking a while back. Al and Jimmy were brothers in law, and lived pretty close to one another. I wish that conversation could have gone on forever.

I have spent hours upon hours listening to Jimmy's right hand, his beat, his pulse, his TIME is ingrained on my soul (and not just mine.) However, most people don't really consider him a "soloist," but when he was given the chance, he could whip a crowd into a frenzy with his soloing, he was a wonderful soloist. His soloing was INDEED underrated, or maybe, more appropriately, under appreciated.

Like Miles, Jimmy could say as much with one perfectly placed note, as anyone else could with a long string of notes and phrases. We can all learn (or try to learn) that from him.

I've told many Jimmy Cobb stories here, so I won't bore you all by repeating them. Jimmy Cobb was a gentleman, and a great musician. He is another example of a person whose music was a direct reflection of who they were as a human being. If you weren't lucky enough to know the man, listen to his music. That was who he was. His personality was his biggest musical attribute. He played, who he was, and he was a very nice man.

Jimmy Cobb, Jazz Royalty!
Master of Understatement.
Gone, but never forgotten!

Mark
 

hardbat

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He was an exciting soloist too. Saw him with Adderly and Sonny Fortune - Jimmy and Sonny trading 8s was amazing. People say Jimmy wasn't flashy, well he sure was that night.
 

tkillian

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tkillian

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The old k on that blackgawk recording is amazing. Stick seperated over wonderful trash...so great
 

marc3k

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The old k on that blackgawk recording is amazing. Stick seperated over wonderful trash...so great
So this is what an old K sounds like? I personally expected something else - to me it nearly sounds like a china... is he hitting it so hard?

 

Seb77

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*This is what Jimmy Cobb sounds like :)
His tippin' style is stronger than the cymbal, he could have sold you a trash can lid with his playing!

For a cymbal that's similar IMO, check out the Mempis Durm Shop Philly Joe Jones clip. I'd use a KCon MthLow, maybe an Agop Sultan Jazz.
 

JDA

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That sounds like a 20" Intermediate (59-66) era around >2000g with a Hickory wood tip stick.
 

JDA

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That album always reminded me of this one


done 3 yr earlier
but seemed a similar 'room'..

and...I liked it better)..
 

marc3k

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That album always reminded me of this one


done 3 yr earlier
but seemed a similar 'room'..

and...I liked it better)..
Cool! I like the way it is recorded, it sounds better to me than the blackhawk one. I agree, this ride cymbal also reminds me of the blackhawk one, and here I do like it better.
 

Seb77

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In the above link, the first tunes are from "Relaxin'" with Philly Joe Jones and Red Garland!

Below a direct link to the 1958 "Plaza" recordings with Jimmy Cobb and Billy Evans - an inrddcible band! (Good to hear it in mono, I used to listen to a CD "Stella By Starlight" where those live tracks had a weird artificial stereo/echo effect. I always liked to listen to one mono side only.)

You can also hear this band (the "Kind of Blue" band) on "Newport 58":
 
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