I've just found an interesting interview from Tom Coster (in 2013, he has since retired playing with Vital Information, Steve Smith group, I was searching info about that).
He talks about playing with Santana, Steve Smith, and also a little bit about Billy :
(...)TC: Yup. ďUh-oh, where am I?Ē Guys like Steve and Cobham as so amazing with this stuff, so you have to pay very close attention to what youíre doing so when that stuff comes around you know whatís going on. Steve to me, probably more than any other drummer Iíve worked with, he does it more within a tune because itís his band. He doesnít do that when heís a sideman because heís being asked to play a particular role. But in Vital, thatís one of the things that makes up what our band is, itís Steve Smith and Vital Information. If he wants to do that stuff anywhere he wants, it just happens. Itís certainly not rehearsed or quite often premeditated.
JK; How would you describe, not really the differences, but your reaction to playing with Billy versus playing with Steve? Everybody you play with has a personality and a vocabulary. Do you find you adapt differently, are there certain things you need to do?
TC: This is also a very important subject to relate to young musicians. Every time I play with a different rhythm section, this is not just drummers; itís drummer and bass player combinations. The last couple of tours I did with Billy Cobham it was Victor Bailey on bass. So right away I knew the feeling of the time was going to be different than playing with Steve and Baron. What you have to do as a musician is you literally have to split your brain in half. Everything youíre hearing that goes along with performing has to be split in two. And the reason for that, at least the way that I look at it, is youíre listening to the music and what youíre playing, because when I get offered a tour with these people we donít have much time to rehearse. We basically are given the mp3ís and the music via email and then we have to do our homework. Once the plane lands and everybody goes to the hall to rehearse, we usually have only one 4-5 hour rehearsal and then we start touring. So while youíre playing this music youíre listening to how your parts are fitting in with them, but the other part of my brain is listening to where the groove is. Because a Victor Bailey and a Billy Cobham are going to put the groove in a different place then a Baron Brown and a Steve Smith. And everybody is going to change a little bit when Steve plays with a different bass player, when Baron plays with a different drummer. So as musicians we have to not just do our things, but we have to be conscious of whatís going on around us and fit into that. With some rhythm sections you may have to lay back a little bit, cause thatís where theyíre feeling the time. Especially in my case, because I do a lot of rhythm playing with the organ stuff. So I definitely want to hook up with them, and I pay really close attention to where theyíre feeling the time.