Urban Heat Advisory’s Preview Video of Billy Cobham’s Live Performance @ The Birchmere, Alexandria, VA 4/2/18
World renowned drummer and fusion jazz pioneer Billy Cobham has recorded and performed with countless greats in the music industry. From his early works with Miles Davis, Horace Silver and John McLaughlin to his later collaborations with Quincy Jones, George Duke and Joe Sample. Not only is he a drumming virtuoso, but also a well-respected percussionist, composer, producer, photographer and educator. Cobham, who will celebrate his 74th birthday next month, continues to travel the world sharing his musical creativity. On April 2nd, he returned to The Birchmere in Alexandria, VA with his Crosswinds Project commemorating the release of his 1974 Crosswinds album. Playing in front of a packed house of drummers, musicians, and longtime fans – Cobham reminded listeners why he remains one of the few remaining pioneers of a remarkable era of fusion jazz that showcases pure musical talent and creativity.
“Crosswinds” (released in 1974) was Cobham’s sophomore album following his debut release “Spectrum“. It featured Billy Cobham on drums with George Duke (keyboards), John Abercrombie (guitar), Michael Brecker (woodwinds), Randy Brecker (trumpet), Garnett Brown (trombone), Lee Pastora (percussion), and John Williams (bass). The album is a strong reflection of Cobham’s musical prowess and intellect along with an enormously talented group of supporting musicians. Not to mention the album’s cover art – a beautiful photo of a beach skyline photographed by Cobham himself.
Fast forward to today – Some 40+ years and over thirty albums later, Billy Cobham brings his group of seasoned musicians to The Birchmere in Alexandria, VA while finishing up the last few dates of the American leg of his Crosswinds Project 2018 tour. The line-up: Scott Tibbs (keyboards), Tim Landers (bass), Fareed Haque (guitar), and Paul Hanson (bassoon / sax). All of which have substantial musical resumes.
Billy Cobham and his Crosswinds Project perfectly revisited the Crosswinds album – paying homage to those original musicians that recorded it some forty plus years ago. Scott Tibbs, a musical virtuoso himself, delivered riveting keyboard solos complimenting Cobham’s lightning-quick rudiments with sharp deliverance and an array of different overtones and melodies. Veteran guitarist Fareed Haque added the perfect blend of lead and occasional acoustic guitar to each song and stirred up the crowd with an amazing solo. Bassoonist Paul Hanson’s unique effects brought back memories of the late great George Duke’s earthly harmonized style of playing. All the while, Billy Cobham’s drumming provided each composition a layer of meaning and remembrance making the performance even more special.
After delivering a stellar set of compositions from Crosswinds, Cobham performed a touching piece he wrote after the deadly 2011 tsunamis in Japan. An amazing medley that began slow and haunting and builds with Cobham’s tom rudiments ultimately ending just as slow as it begins. For an encore, fans were thrilled to hear Cobham’s most popular hits “Red Baron” and “Stratus” resulting in a well-deserved standing ovation from the crowd. Cobham’s international popularity among jazz fans worldwide makes catching a live performance rare. His next performances will take him through Hungary, Ronnie Scott Jazz Club in London and a return tour in the States over the spring and summer months. In September at the Blue Note in New York City, Cobham joins a trio including Donald Harrison and Ron Carter. Keeping busy touring and educating aspiring drummers has kept Billy Cobham quite occupied doing what he loves – and to be able to share that with the world makes it all the more gratifying.
Urban Heat Advisory briefly spoke with Cobham after the show. He remains a humbled and focused musician with a past history of musical experiences that could fill volumes of books, having worked with the likes of Miles Davis, James Brown, Chaka Khan, Stanley Clarke, George Benson, even playing with Grateful Dead – just to name a few. If you’re in the NYC area this fall, be sure to calendar in Cobham’s next appearances in mid-September.
For Tour Dates & Info: www.billycobham.com