- Billy Cobham's Crosswinds Project
- March 8, 7:30 p.m.
- Dimitriou's Jazz Alley, Seattle
Jazz fusion pioneer Billy Cobham is an internationally renowned drumming virtuoso, percussionist, composer, producer, educator and master clinician whose life has been dedicated to musical exploration and creative expression.
Since his birth on May 16, 1944, in Colón, Panama, Cobham has been surrounded by music. His father was a pianist, his mother was a singer, and his family members built percussion instruments for religious purposes.
After he completed his military service, Cobham began his performing career with jazz artists such as: Horace Silver, George Benson, Ron Carter, Thad Jones, Kenny Burrell, Stanley Turrentine and Shirley Scott. In 1969, Cobham was a founding member of the band “Dreams,” which featured brothers Michael and Randy Brecker, along with Jeff Kent, Doug Lubahn, the late John Abercrombie, Barry Rogers, Eddie Vernon and later, Will Lee and Don Grolnick.
The following year, he was invited to join Miles Davis’ group and contributed to four pivotal recordings by the trumpeter, including Bitches Brew (where he collaborated with guitarist John McLaughlin) and Tribute to Jack Johnson.
In 1973, Cobham began leading his own groups and releasing his own albums, beginning with Spectrum, which unexpectedly became a sensational hit around the world. This breakthrough album is widely regarded as one of the most important, defining statements of the jazz-rock genre.
Throughout his career, Cobham has appeared on over 300 recordings, including those by pop and rock icons like Peter Gabriel, Quincy Jones, Jack Bruce, Bob Weir, and James Brown, and to date, has produced and released more than forty albums as a leader.
During the 1970s and '80s, Cobham recorded steadily as a band leader for Atlantic, CBS, Elektra, and GRP, collaborating with artists ranging from George Duke, John Scofield, and Airto Moreira to Jack Bruce and the Grateful Dead, both on stage and in-studio.
At the start of the new millennium, Cobham introduced "The Art of Jazz" series, recording and touring extensively first with the Art of 3 (with Kenny Barron and Ron Carter), then the Art of 4 (with Carter, Donald Harrison and James Williams) and the Art of 5 (with Harrison, Guy Barker, Eric Reed or Julian Joseph, and Orlando Le Fleming).
He also produced Culture Mix featuring steel pan player Junior Gill, recording two albums with them for CMMC (with distribution through In and Out Records).
In 2002, Cobham collaborated with the Cuban group Asere at the WOMAD Festival in Reading, a rich collaboration that would continue for many years. He also recorded the CD, De Cuba y de Panama with Asere, and a DVD, A Latin Soul, directed by John Hollis, featuring Cobham and Asere performing together.
In 2003, Cobham reactivated Spectrum as a band that revisited the music of that genre-reinventing album, featuring Leland Sklar (the original bassist), Dean Brown (guitar) and Gary Husband (keyboards).
In 2013, Cobham celebrated the 40th anniversary of the release of Spectrum CD by touring in USA, Canada and Europe with the Spectrum 40 Band. These performances were extremely well-received by longtime and next-generation fans.
Also that year, Purple Pyramid Records released the Billy Cobham Compass Point two-CD set, recorded live in New Providence, Bahamas, which features Gary Husband, Stefan Rademacher and Carl Orr.
In early 2014, Cobham released the much-anticipated Tales from the Skeleton Coast, which was the third installment of the four recordings produced as a commemoration and celebration of Cobham's mother and father.
In the summer of 2014, Cobham released a live CD recording from his highly regarded Spectrum 40 tours, which thrilled audiences around the world, in commemoration of the 40th anniversary of Spectrum.
In 2016, Cobham developed and introduced a groundbreaking educational program for rhythm section musicians, known as The Billy Cobham Art of the Rhythm Section Retreat, held in Mesa, Arizona. This immersive learning experience, designed for drummers, bassists, guitarists and keyboardists alike, helps musicians learn to play more cohesively as a unit and develop better teamwork and stronger communications skills throughout the band. Entering its third year of operation, the Retreat continues to expand and evolve in its scope, attracting accomplished musicians and music educators from around the world.
In 2017, Cobham recorded and released a CD with the new Swiss Youth Jazz Orchestra, including four time Grammy-winning Klaus Genuit, Master Engineer at Hansa Haus Studios as mixer, with performances by Ryan Quigley, Bobby Watson, Marques Young, Jeremy Monteiro, Rudi Engel, and some gifted members of the Swiss Youth Jazz Orchestra: Fabian Tschopp, Mathieu Bitz, Felix Piringer, Sofie Schindelholz, Gergő Szax, Dmitry Zinakov, Ivan Akatov, Sebastian Wey, Silvio Benz, Jérémy Lenoir, Riccardo Ooms and Loris Di Marco.
This album pays homage to the late Dave Brubeck, the pianist and jazz icon who was an inspiration to many a composer, writer and player over many decades. The theme provided a perfect setting for a production in an educational platform like the ‘Bandstand Learning With Role Models’ at the annual Jazzaar Festival in Aarau, Switzerland, where Cobham served as maestro.
As of late 2017, Cobham was readying to unveil his Crosswinds project, designed to reflect upon his second recording on Atlantic Records from 1974. Ernie Watts (saxophones), Scott Tibbs (keyboards), Fareed Haque (guitar) and Tim Landers (bass) will join Cobham in this endeavor. As Cobham explains, “Since its inception, I have not played all of the music from Crosswinds, because I did not feel comfortable performing material that I felt was not yet completed. For instance, with “Spanish Moss” I wanted to do more with it in terms of creative development and it has taken over forty years to confront this issue and produce the ‘goods.’
In addition to Cobham’s infinite musical explorations, he is an accomplished photographer, who began shooting seriously when he was in the U.S.Army in the mid-60’s. In recent times, Cobham’s works have been displayed at the Leica Gallery Mayfair, London. In 2017, he collaborated with Scene Four on an ingenious and visually stunning “Rhythmic Expressionism” art series created by long-exposure photography and lighted drumsticks that capture Cobham’s legendary, dynamic performance movements.