By Gloucestershire Echo | Posted: May 04, 2014
My heart sinks when I see a drum kit as big as the Ritz. It usually means a user with an ego to match.
No problem on this occasion, the owner was Billy Cobham a modest man with nothing to be modest about.
He’s universally acclaimed as the greatest drummer and leader in fusion, and beginning with impressive jazz roots he’s played with:
Miles Davis, Freddie Hubbard, Larry Coryell, Horace Silver, George Benson, The Brecker Brothers, John McLaughlin’s Mahavishnu Orchestra, The Grateful Dead … the list goes on.
Dressed all in white with a headband, he acknowledged a huge ovation and sitting behind that enormous battery, he was off at full explosive power, but at a volume level well below ear damage level.
And every bit of kit seemed essential, with hands shooting up at 45 degrees to far-ranged cymbals.
Thriving on all that speed, accuracy and cosmic thrust was an incredibly tight and professional band, with bass, guitar, two keyboards and steel pan.
The varied self-composed material was from an album about Billy’s family, much of it in a cheerful major key. Name checking titles was rare and each tune ran long.
Long enough for skilled bluesy delving from Jean-Maris Ecay’s guitar, all kinds of modes from keyboardists Christophe Cravero and Camelia Ben Naceur, rolling grooves from bassist Michael Mondesir and the chiming, clashing dissecting effect of Junior Gill’s steel pan.
The latter added a strange distinction to the music, at times giving an oldy worldy hurdy gurdy effect.
Billy was seriously ill a few years ago. But now hale and hearty he dedicated one nostalgic composition to a hospital, with Cravero switching to violin to express classical sounding thanks.
Complexity had little to do with all this, and in most hands a frequent offbeat would be a killing deadbeat. Billy’s skill and varied technique however largely eliminated same-iness,
And the final secret weapon was an Indian microphone mouth-drummer, who Billy outmouthed before the two of them produced a storming duet.
Billy Cobham at 70 remains a phenomenon
Read more: http://www.gloucestershireecho.co.uk/Billy-Cobham-70-Cheltenham-Jazz-Review/story-21056083-detail/story.html#ixzz30nfdFK3k