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BILLY COBHAM

Jazz Rock/Fusion • United States


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Billy Cobham biography
William Emanuel Cobham Jr. - Born May 16, 1944 (Colón, Panama)

COBHAM moved to New York City when he was just three years old. Flirting with congas and steel drums at the early age of five, Billy started his musical career. He played his first gig with his dad when he was just eight, in New York, 5 years after moving from Panama in 1947.
Beyond already having a superb musical ear and dynamic technique, he refined his musical education in the New York's High School of Music and Art, in which he learnt more drumming techniques and music theory. He graduated in 1962 and began playing in the United States Army Band from 1965 to 1968.
In 1968 he played with various jazz artists, including jazz pianist HORACE SILVER, sax player STANLEY TURRENTINE, organist SHIRLEY SCOTT and guitarist GEORGE BENSON on the album "Giblet Gravy".
His career as a jazz rock artist started with no other than the most talked-about jazz musician of the time: MILES DAVIS. He recorded five albums with Miles, including "Bitches Brew" (in which he was uncredited). It was a giant leap for him, and through Miles Davis he met JOHN MCLAUGHLIN, who would later recruit Billy in the MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA in 1973, one of his most recalled works in the jazz-rock genre. Before the Mahavishnu period he also co-founded the fusion band DREAMS; which featured figures of the calibre of MICHAEL BRECKER and JOHN ABERCROMBIE; also in that band was RANDY BRECKER, DON GROLNICK, BARRY RODGERS and WILL LEE.
In 1973 he recorded his debut solo album, "Spectrum", which featured TOMMY BOLIN on guitar, JAN HAMMER on keyboards, JOE FARRELL on sax and flute, RON CARTER on acoustic bass, LEE SKLAR on electric bass, JIMMY OWENS on trumpet and RAY BARRETTO on congas. This time around he assembled a musical organization consisting of former DREAMS mates MICHAEL BRECKER on sax, RANDY BRECKER on trumpet and newcomers ALEX BLAKE (bass), MILCHO LIEVEV (keyboards), GLEN FERRIS (trombone) and LEE PASTORA (percussion); Cobham performed with the aforementioned band in the Montreax Jazz Festival; a performance which could be heard on the live album "Shabazz".
The trio Brecker, Brecker and Abercrombie remained with Cobham to record "Crosswinds" in 1974. Newcomers for the album were bassist JOHN WILLIAMS, trombonist GARNETT BROWN and renowned keyboardist GEORGE DUKE. The album had a similar style to "Spectrum", and not as funky as "Total Eclipse", which was released the same year with the same line-up as ...
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CrosswindsCrosswinds
Remastered
Rhino/Wea Uk 2001
$6.44
$4.01 (used)
Meeting of the Spirits: Celebration of the Mahavishnu OrchestraMeeting of the Spirits: Celebration of the Mahavishnu Orchestra
In+out Records 2010
$13.23
$15.86 (used)
Original Album SeriesOriginal Album Series
Box set
WARNER BROS UK 2012
$10.54
$10.12 (used)
SpectrumSpectrum
Music on Vinyl 2018
$19.73
$11.21 (used)
SpectrumSpectrum
Remastered
Rhino/Wea Uk 2001
$5.14
$9.04 (used)
Total EclipseTotal Eclipse
Rhino/Wea Uk 2008
$4.99
$9.19 (used)
The TravellerThe Traveller
Evidence 1994
$7.99
$4.54 (used)
FocusedFocused
Eagle Rock 2014
$8.27
$7.89 (used)
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BILLY COBHAM discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

BILLY COBHAM top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.27 | 563 ratings
Spectrum
1973
3.74 | 80 ratings
Crosswinds
1974
3.74 | 55 ratings
Total Eclipse
1974
3.62 | 35 ratings
A Funky Thide Of Sings
1975
3.80 | 30 ratings
Life & Times
1976
3.67 | 31 ratings
Magic
1977
3.40 | 15 ratings
Simplicity Of Expression, Depth Of Thought
1978
3.27 | 22 ratings
Inner Conflicts
1978
2.88 | 8 ratings
B. C.
1979
3.63 | 13 ratings
Billy Cobham's Glass Menagerie: Stratus
1981
3.91 | 11 ratings
Billy Cobham's Glass Menagerie: Observations &
1982
3.06 | 14 ratings
Warning
1985
3.17 | 12 ratings
Powerplay
1986
3.14 | 14 ratings
Picture This
1987
2.78 | 9 ratings
Incoming
1989
3.30 | 10 ratings
By Design
1992
3.20 | 11 ratings
The Traveler
1994
3.73 | 11 ratings
Nordic
1996
3.22 | 9 ratings
Wolfgang Schmid / Bill Bickford / Billy Cobham: Paradox
1996
3.77 | 12 ratings
Focused
1998
3.27 | 11 ratings
Wolfgang Schmid / Bill Bickford / Billy Cobham: Paradox, The First Second
1998
2.33 | 8 ratings
Nordic: Off Color
1999
2.23 | 3 ratings
Billy Cobham Presents North By Northwest
2001
4.00 | 2 ratings
Drum 'N' Voice - All That Groove
2001
3.50 | 4 ratings
Culture Mix
2002
3.60 | 5 ratings
The Art Of Five
2004
4.05 | 3 ratings
Billy Cobham's Culturemix: Colours
2005
3.00 | 4 ratings
Art Of Four
2006
3.80 | 5 ratings
Drum 'N' Voice 2
2006
3.75 | 4 ratings
Billy Cobham & Asere: De Cuba Y De Panama
2008
2.59 | 11 ratings
Palindrome
2010
3.04 | 9 ratings
Drum 'N' Voice Vol. 3
2010
2.33 | 5 ratings
Fruit From The Loom
2010
3.50 | 6 ratings
Tales From The Skeleton Coast
2014

BILLY COBHAM Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.96 | 32 ratings
Shabazz
1974
3.46 | 29 ratings
The Billy Cobham - George Duke Band: "Live" On Tour In Europe
1976
2.96 | 14 ratings
Billy Cobham-Steve Khan-Alphonso Johnson-Tom Scott: Alivemutherforya
1978
3.27 | 6 ratings
Billy Cobham Live: Flight Time
1981
3.22 | 9 ratings
Billy Cobham's Glass Menagerie: Smokin'
1983
4.00 | 1 ratings
Billy Cobham Live: Mississippi Knights
1998
2.50 | 2 ratings
Live In Rome
2000
3.50 | 2 ratings
The Art Of Time
2001
4.00 | 2 ratings
The Art Of Three: Live In Japan 2003
2003
3.69 | 7 ratings
Billy Cobham / Colin Towns / HR Big Band: Meeting Of The Spirits - A Celebration Of The Mahavishnu Orchestra
2006
4.00 | 3 ratings
Compass Point
2013
0.00 | 0 ratings
Mirror's Image
2015
0.00 | 0 ratings
Reflected Journey
2015

BILLY COBHAM Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

5.00 | 1 ratings
Glass Menagerie
2002
0.00 | 0 ratings
Culturemix
2005

BILLY COBHAM Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.03 | 12 ratings
The Best Of Billy Cobham
1979
3.00 | 2 ratings
Billy's Best Hits
1987
5.00 | 2 ratings
Magic/ Simplicity of Expression, Depth Of Thought
1998
0.00 | 0 ratings
Les Incontournables
2000
0.00 | 0 ratings
Billy Cobham Box ( Limited Edition)
2001
4.50 | 8 ratings
Rudiments: The Billy Cobham Anthology
2001
4.00 | 3 ratings
Many Years B.C.
2002
0.00 | 0 ratings
Radioactive (Hope Street/ Powerplay remastered)
2005
4.00 | 1 ratings
Introducing Billy Cobham
2006

BILLY COBHAM Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

BILLY COBHAM Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Billy Cobham's Glass Menagerie: Stratus by COBHAM, BILLY album cover Studio Album, 1981
3.63 | 13 ratings

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Billy Cobham's Glass Menagerie: Stratus
Billy Cobham Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by patrickq

3 stars I'll start with what I perceive as the weak spot of Stratus: it sounds like safe, "smooth jazz" in places. "AC/DC" and "Total Eclipse" are prime examples, although each has its charms, and the piano work on "Total Eclipse" is excellent. But overall, I get the feeling that five excellent but risk-averse musicians got together for a gig and nailed their parts on the first take.

OK, now that's out of the way. Stratus is a good listen. Compared to Mahavishnu Orchestra's Birds of Fire - - the other album I have that features Cobham - - Stratus is less adventurous but more consistent. Interestingly, this is true of the drumming as well. I'm not sure if this is common when the bandleader is the drummer, but Cobham opens the album with a half- minute solo, which he picks back up on side two for another three and a half minutes. And that's pretty much it. The rest of the time, the spotlight is on someone else in the band - - not the guy who's name is on the cover.

And the other members of the band are great too, especially bassist Tim Landers and violinist Michał Urbaniak. The quintet was rounded out by Mike Stern (guitar) and Gil Goldstein (keyboards). Urbaniak and Stern each later played with Miles Davis, for whom Cobham played on "Feio" from Bitches Brew. While Cobham wrote four of the tracks on the album, the other four musicians wrote one apiece.

Stratus may not be an essential fusion album, but it's a good one. Three stars.

 The Billy Cobham - George Duke Band: Live, 1976
3.46 | 29 ratings

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The Billy Cobham - George Duke Band: "Live" On Tour In Europe
Billy Cobham Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by sgtpepper

3 stars A mixed back of first-class fusion music, mediocre fun attempts with vocals and keyboards to funky songs - this record showcases all musical career stages in the 70's. The best tracks are instrumental ones and longer ones. Guitar playing is tasty and subdued, keyboards are versatile and omnipresent, the drums are dynamic and the bass is a decent complement. One track is features Cobham on electronic drums. I had acquired the CD long time ago but still find it pleasant due to its quirks and interesting line-up. It's a pity that the album clocks at only 46 minutes - normal concerts are much longer. Recommended to all 70's fusion fans as this is one of the better efforts.
 Shabazz by COBHAM, BILLY album cover Live, 1974
3.96 | 32 ratings

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Shabazz
Billy Cobham Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by sgtpepper

4 stars The best live performance by Billy Cobham - all performances are motivated, precise and filled with energy. The two new tracks are focused around drums, "Shabazz" being more of a band effort then "Tenth Pinn". The brass section sounds more live than on any of BH studio albums and shows also more presence. The first and foremost purpose here is a jam feeling - instead of playing by notes, improvisation is highlighted.

Good old times are remembered with "Taurian Matador" with frenetic guitar runs, drum patterns. Wait for the masterful clavinet solo in the middle of the track that flows into Fender Rhodes improvisation. "Red Baron" is the only laid-back grooving track - sounds better live than on the studio album. "Tenth PInn" is by its discohesiveness not too far away from Miles Davis late 60's output - experimental, searching and ear-provoking. This track is an acquired taste for patient and depth-looking listeners. A great live record with fusion in the centerfield unlike later live albums.

 Total Eclipse by COBHAM, BILLY album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.74 | 55 ratings

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Total Eclipse
Billy Cobham Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by sgtpepper

4 stars Even more ambitious than the previous first two records and almost as good in execution as the debut album, on Total Eclipse, maturity is nice mixed with young explosiveness and energy. This record offers a right mixture of complexity, player dexterity, compositional quality and side players involvement.

The first epic track is a modular suite and ranges from mellow passages to drum solo and torrid fusion jam. The beginning has a progressive rock driven pattern but the drumming intensity is clearly a trademark of Cobham ;) Everybody wakes up to these devilish guitar and drum interplay followed by piano/brass loaded intermezzos. Second Phase reliefs the tension with soft piano licks and transforms into a George-Duke-like funky territory. In the style krieg, the familiar fusion motive takes over and hellish tempo welcomes the listener. A fabulous composition!

"Lunarputians" reminds me of Eleventh House - it is a well coloured accessible energetic short track.

"Total Eclipse" meanders between funky and fusion side of things. Of note is jazzy piano stylistically closer to traditional bop than funk - a great contribution by Milcho Leviev. John Abercrombie tasteful play comes into spotlight by the end of the track.

"Bandits" is noteworthy because of drum and bass duo, the track is clearly not here to impress compositionally but to show the instrumental capabilities of the rhythm section.

Another killer drum pattern comes in "Sea of tranquility" - sounds calm at first listen but it keeps being busy. The brass players make a great job here with plethora of instruments - flugelhorn, saxophone, trumpets, etc. This track continues being intensive despite its name and laid-back atmosphere.

The last track gives way to a long drummer's solo and unpretentious reflection of the piano player.

Only slightly below the first Cobham's record and still 4.5 stars!

 Spectrum by COBHAM, BILLY album cover Studio Album, 1973
4.27 | 563 ratings

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Spectrum
Billy Cobham Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by sgtpepper

5 stars The most influential fusion drummer's album and a great but very ambitions start for any drummer. Incredible drumming versatility and ferocity, muscular bass, fantastic guitar solo and a decent keyboard accompaniment by the keyboard start Jan Hammer. The first song is a hymn to the rock'n'roll furious fusion high-temperature cooking with drums and guitar taking the lead. Notice the unusually ferocious bass drums and guitar solo licks. Fantastic drum solo brings is into "Spectrum" with a typical fusion feeling marked by typical busy Cobham drumming and instrumental contributions by brass and keyboard players. Drums are very distinct in the mix sometimes even echoed. Billy is very creative and always chooses different fills or textures to follow. This is the best overall fusion track on the record. "Taurian Matador" showcases Cobham's soloing abilities. It sounds close to Mahavishnu Orchestra, all players having enough possibilities to stretch. "Stratus" is the most known track due to the bass line - has been reproduced many times since. It has a laid-back and friendly feeling that usually feels from usual Mahavishnu Orchestra compositions. This track is very consumable even by non-fusion but still open fans. Similar holds for a slightly more experimental "Red Baron" A must have record for any fusion or progressive-driven fan.
 Spectrum by COBHAM, BILLY album cover Studio Album, 1973
4.27 | 563 ratings

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Spectrum
Billy Cobham Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Magnum Vaeltaja
Special Collaborator Eclectic Prog Team

4 stars Billy Cobham's debut is a jazz fusion classic.

Being written entirely by a drummer, this album is obviously quite drum-centric. And there's no problem with that because even though drums are the highlight of the album, there's still plenty of time to appreciate the other players, such as Tommy Bolin (soon to join Deep Purple) on guitar and Jan Hammer on keys. "Spectrum" is very evocative of urban, nocturnal moods and ranges from exhilarating up-tempo jams ("Quadrant 4") to subdued, more "pornographic" soundscapes, such as "Le Lis" and it's not hard to get lost in the grooves and get swept away by the music, which is exactly what great jazz should do. The production on the album is strong throughout and there are no weak performances. The only reason that I'm tempted to give this a 4 star review as opposed to declaring it a fusion masterpiece is due to the fact that the album was recorded very spontaneously in only 2 days and as a result a lot of the compositions don't seem fleshed out. The shorter tracks, especially the drum solos, tend not to move the listener nearly as much as the longer pieces, such as "Stratus" and "Red Baron".

While not being "perfect", "Spectrum is still a jazz fusion album that anyone can get into and that I would highly, highly recommend for drummers to listen to. 4 stars.

 Total Eclipse by COBHAM, BILLY album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.74 | 55 ratings

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Total Eclipse
Billy Cobham Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Gatot
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars It's quite funny that I only paid attention to this solo album by one of my favourite drummers only recently after decades of its release. As far as my childhood experience I only knew basically two albums Spectrum and A Funky Tide of Sings. Spectrum was special during my childhood as it was the first time I knew a talented young guitarist who latter become Ritchie Blackmore's replacement in Deep Purple sometime in 1975.

It's now quite surprising to me that I enjoy Total Eclipse very much especially the opening track Solarization which I consider it as not only a jazz rock composition but it's crafted with progressive mind as structurally the music comprises some movements: Solarization/Second Phase/Crescent Sun/Voyage/Solarization-Recapitulation with overall duration of 11 minutes plus. If I look at the style changes there are many I can find from the opening track. But it's not only that; this track is beautifully composed from start to end with great jaw-dropping drumwork by Cobham. It's really nice opening.

The following track Lunarputians (2:33) is stil another excellent track maintaining the gestures of brass section, similar with the opening track. Again I can hear how wonderful the drum work which does not only serve as beat keeper at the end of the segment but play vital role as one important thing to listen altogether with brass section. The album title track Total Eclipse (5:59) has a slower tempo music unlike the first two but it still maintain great nuances created from the first two tracks. The only difference is the more exploration of piano but still maintaining great brass section augmented beautifully with drumwork. When I say "great" brass section I mean it's excellently played and it produces really great sound especially if you use a decent stereo set. I do enjoy it very much.

Other tracks that are of interest are Moon Germs (4:54) which reminds me back to the first two tracks of this album - really worth listening; and also Sea Of Tranquility (10:44) - another wonderfully crafted long track started with ambient piano work and it moves excellently in crescendo , blending all brass section and its solo and again ....great drumwork. The concluding track Last Frontier (5:22) demonstrates Cobham's great drum solo.

I can not say this album other than excellent as the music is wonderfully crafted and Cobham's distinctive drumming demonstrated clearly throughout the album. Keep on proggin' ...!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

 Spectrum by COBHAM, BILLY album cover Studio Album, 1973
4.27 | 563 ratings

BUY
Spectrum
Billy Cobham Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Argonaught

3 stars TN;DL

One of the recent (and, probably, still on-going) discussions here on the Forum has been about "shredding vs. virtuosity", or something to this effect. This prompted me to describe how I feel about a few very highly rated albums from the Heroic Age of jazz/rock.

Faithful to the elated spirit of the Mahavishnu Orchestra's Birds and Emerald, the players on the Spectrum relentlessly thrash the bejesus out of their instruments, mostly in the first part of the album. I can't seem to be able to "listen past" all the neurotic shredding to get through to the music itself. Interestingly, I have no difficulty consuming almost unlimited amounts of (post) bop, which can be very intense and may appear all over the place, yet everything, all the loose strands and bouncy bits come together to form great music.

To sum up: Too Noisy; Didn't Listen. Well, I did listen, but couldn't enjoy, although I do recognize the value of the energy and the boldness of Billy Cobham's Spectrum.

 Warning by COBHAM, BILLY album cover Studio Album, 1985
3.06 | 14 ratings

BUY
Warning
Billy Cobham Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Gatot
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars It's a pity that no one has ever reviewed this very decent album by Billy Cobham which I consider worth collecting for couple of reasons. First off, it has a very good composition that you might not realize that it's written by a drummer - an excellent drummer, in fact. I have known Billy Cobham long time ago since 70s when he made 'Spectrum' album where he recruited Tommy Bolin of Deep Purple fame to fill-up he guitar work. The compositions he wrote here in this album has very good melody line typically demonstrated through keyboards and/or piano work. The best melody is basically the second track 'Red and Yellow Cabriolet' which has keyboard as melody maker of the song. Billy has proved himself that he is not just a drummer but also an excellent composer! In addition to that, the music has very good dynamics in almost every single track except the slow one 'Slow Body Poppin' '. Most importantly the whole album moves beautifully from start to end and it forms a cohesive whole. Yes, it has a solid structural integrity so that the music sounds like an album not a collection of songs.

Second, you can enjoy the beauty of Billy's drumming style even though he does not perform any drum solo work like he did with his previous album 'A Funky Thide of Sings'. He does solo work as transition pieces in some tracks which is I consider good enough, musically. He also let Sa Davis to perform his percussion work dynamically has does under some tracks like 'Red and Yellow Cabriolet' I basically enjoy his drumming style from the opening track 'Mozaik' where it has piano work and some short drum solo during the transition pieces. He then demonstrate that the second track 'Red and Yellow Cabriolet' has a solid and memorable melody through the keyboard work. Billy also inserts the new version of Stratus where he omits the guitar work and replaces it with keyboard. I think this new version of Stratus is good as another kind of the original.

Overall, this is a very good album by Billy Cobham and it deserves a 3.5 ratings . For those of you who like jazz-rock fusion music, I bet you'd like it. Keep on proggin' ...!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

 The Best Of Billy Cobham by COBHAM, BILLY album cover Boxset/Compilation, 1979
4.03 | 12 ratings

BUY
The Best Of Billy Cobham
Billy Cobham Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Gatot
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars An excellent compilation!

Most people consider Billy Cobham as jazz musician and/or drummer - that's why this compilation has no one to write the review yet, only some ratings (6 people give rating). I also actually consider him under jazz category even though it's much more on jazz-rock fusion as his debut album "Spectrum" was actually fall under jazz-rock category with some progressive elements as well. But for those newbie to Billy Cobham they should have this compilation as it represents good track from him even though he still had many other good tracks from his nine albums until this compilation was released in 1979. Personally I do not follow all albums of his but I was so amazed with his debut and ini some ways I loved "The Funky Thide of Sings" as well.

All tracks featured here are really excellent. Look at the opening track "Quadrant 4" (4:30) which runs in very fast tempo with jaw-dropping drum work. I really love Bill's drum beats as it's inventive in nature and he always inserts fast beats in between segment powerfully, with unique tom and snare sounds and it's really enjoyable to listen. The next track " a) Snoopy's Search/ b) Red Baron" (7:39) is another fine composition with great bass guitar lines and guitar work backed with his inventive drumming. Another composition that demonstrates great brass section work and I always use this track when I open a workshop or seminar is "a) Solo (0:16) b) Panhandler (3:50)" where it has excellent energy, dynamics with stunning guitar work as well as tight basslines. I always energized when I listen to this track because the combined work of guitar, bass section, bass guitar and drums is really great! Try listen to this track and I am pretty damn sure yu would love it very much especially if you love jazz- rock fusion kind of music.

"The Pleasant Pheasant" (5:11) is also a great composition and it's a favorite track for those who love jazz-rock. "Stratus" (9:50) was actually my chief reason I bought the cassette of Billy's debut album because there was guest guitarist, Tommy Bolin, contributed to the track. It's really a great track for most of you who like jazz rock. Enjoy the stunning guitar work of Tommy Bolin in funky-style combined with tight basslines and dynamic drumming. Woooo......!!! I love this track very very much .....

Simply said, this compilation is worth-collecting really.... Especially if you love jazz-rock fusion music. ANd after having this album, buy the individual abum from the debut one. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Thanks to Ghost Rider for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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