Jimmy Cobb, Miles Davis, Kind Of Blue, Obituaries

Jimmy Cobb, Miles Davis

Jimmy Cobb: Gifted jazz drummer for Miles Davis

Jimmy Cobb: Gifted jazz drummer for Miles Davis

6/2/2020 7:33:00 AM

Jimmy Cobb : Gifted jazz drummer for Miles Davis

Over a career that spanned seven decades and included his work on the masterpiece ‘Kind of Blue’, Cobb was regarded as an outstanding accompanist of understated vibrancy

Monday - Friday plus breaking news alerts by emailUpdate newsletter preferencesJames Wilbur Cobb was born in Washington DC on 20 January 1929, and he was raised by his mother, a short-order cook. He developed an interest in drumming at 15.“A guy in my neighbourhood, whose hobby was drums, used to hang out at our house during the day,” he told the

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Hartford Courant. “We used to listen to records and bang on the table with our knuckles and forks and stuff to the rhythm of the records.”His mother found him work as a dishwasher and busboy so he could pay for his first set of drums. He would practice at Saturday night dances held on his grandfather’s tobacco farm about 30 miles from the city, playing with a band featuring saxophonist Buck Hill.

At 18, he played at the Blue Mirror club in Washington, backing up singer Billie Holiday. His memories of her remained vivid decades later: “She used to say, ‘Youngblood, help me zip up my corset.’” The engagement was a breakthrough that led to work in the early 1950s with Earl Bostic’s band and then with singer Dinah Washington, to whom he was romantically attached, and finally with Adderley.

It was Adderley who brought Cobb to Davis’ attention at a time when Davis’ previous drummer, Philly Joe Jones, known for his pyrotechnic firepower, was in the throes of drug addiction. The trumpeter-bandleader was in need of a dependable musician who also had a more delicate approach, given his plans for

Kind of Blue“I was probably the soberest one in the band,” Cobb toldThe Village Voice. “And he knew I was going to be on time. And he knew when I got there, I would give 150 per cent. So like that, you know. That’s the pluses I had.”Read moreMartin Lovett: Cello master and last survivor of the Amadeus Quartet

He was in Manhattan when he got the call from Davis at 6.30pm, asking whether he could join him on the bandstand at 9 – in Boston.“I said, ‘Nine o’clock? How am I going to get to Boston by nine o’clock, man?’ He said, ‘Man, you want the gig, don’t you?’ I say, ‘Yeah, man.’ I say, ‘OK, I’ll get there as fast as I can.’”

After, Cobb was a mainstay of several Davis albums, including the Grammy Award-winningSketches of SpainSomeday My Prince Will Come(1960) andMiles Davis at Carnegie Hall(1962). He left the Davis group in 1963 and continued a hectic recording schedule with the Wynton Kelly Trio and guitarist Wes Montgomery, among dozens of others.

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Cobb toured with singer Sarah Vaughan for much of the 1970s and played with pianist Hank Jones and bassist Eddie Gomez in an ensemble called the Great Jazz Trio. He also started a teaching career that included stints at Stanford University, the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and Berklee College of Music in Boston.

In the 1990s, Cobb shed his relative anonymity as a sideman to lead studio and touring groups, sometimes billed as Jimmy Cobb’s Mob, and he continued to appear at clubs and jazz festivals in recent years. In 2009, he was designated a Jazz Master by the National Endowment for the Arts.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by two daughters.Cobb often said the key to maintaining a strong rapport with Davis – on record or in person – was exuding a good-humoured nimbleness of mind. Davis, he recalled to the publicationJazzwax, used to invoke bandmate Kelly: “Man, I sure wish I could swing like Wynton.”

“I looked at him and said, ‘I sure wish you could, too, Miles.’ ... He gave me a look, but we were pretty good friends. He knew I was always there when we played. That was Miles’ thing. He was always watching to see what you were going to bring.”Jimmy Cobb, drummer, born 20 January 1929, died 24 May 2020

Read more: The Independent »

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