Legendary drummer Billy Cobham returns to Yoshi’s in Oakland for a two night stint beginning Tuesday and featuring local bassoon virtuoso Paul Hanson, guitarist Fareed Haque, keyboardist Scott Tibbs and bassist Tim Landers, an alumni from Cobham’s 1980’s group Glass Menagerie. 73 years young, Cobham continues to both inspire and amaze; his ability to inject new life into his extensive repertoire has been thrilling audiences the world over. Following the successes of his Spectrum 40 bands with Gary Husband, Ric Fierrabracci, and Dean Brown, (another Glass Menagerie alum); The NDR and Guy Barker Big Bands, as well as his European sextets with Camelia Ben Naceur, Steve Hamilton, Christian Galvez, Jean Marie Ecay, and Junior Gil, Cobham has turned his talents toward his now classic second album, “Crosswinds”. One of Cobham’s best recordings for the Atlantic label, Crosswinds featured the late saxophonist Michael Brecker, guitarist John Abercrombie, and keyboardist George Duke in what has to be one of their finest efforts.
Scott Yanow, a writer for the AllMusic Review, also described the album as “Billy Cobham’s second date as a leader was one of his better sessions. Four songs (all originals by the leader/drummer) comprise “Spanish Moss — A Sound Portrait,” and, in addition, Cobham contributed three other pieces. The selections team him with guitarist John Abercrombie, both of the Brecker Brothers, trombonist Garnett Brown, keyboardist George Duke, bassist John Williams, and Latin percussionist Lee Pastora. In general, the melodies and the vamps are reasonably memorable. Cobham also takes an unaccompanied drum solo on “Storm.” Worth searching for by fusion collectors…”
Cobham is never content with trotting out repetitions of the past, instead he re-arranges them and injecting new interpretations. The addition of Hanson is one such example. Just as trumpeter Randy Brecker’s use of effects and wah-wah pedals propelled his sound to new heights, Hanson similarly uses a multitude of effects on his bassoon. Fans of Bela Fleck and the Flecktones were treated to his prowess during their 2001 “Outbound” tour, as Hanson, saxophonists Jeff Coffin and Paul McCandless brought down the house with their fiery trinity of solos and unison lines.
Guitarist Fareed Haque is no stranger when it comes to challenging music, as fans of his incendiary group Garaj Mahal with bassist Kai Eckhardt can attest. I got my first glimpse of the veteran keyboardist Scott Tibbs when he delighted the crowd at NAMM in Anaheim last year while alongside Cobham in an all-electronic trio performance for the Roland Corporation. It’s a treat to see him with Cobham again on this tour.
Longtime fans of Cobham such as myself, can still vividly recall those Mahavishnu Orchestra shows; His 1970’s septet with the Brecker Brothers, and later with the unbelievable Billy Cobham – George Duke Band, featuring Alphonso Johnson and John Scofield. Following those tours (and a few others), was Cobham’s 1982 “Glass Menagerie” group with the aforementioned Tim Landers on bass, Gil Goldstein on keyboards, and Cobham’s current Spectrum 40 guitarist Dean Brown; Later incarnations added Mike Stern and violinist Michael Urbaniak. It wasn’t long after that Cobham relocated to Switzerland, so it’s nice to see Landers return to the fold for this project.
Yoshi’s has seen a variety of Cobham’s memorable projects over the last few years, from his phenomenal European sextet, his powerful Spectrum 40 quartets, and now with his innovative Crosswinds quintet. With Cobham spending a great deal of time touring in Europe and abroad, adding the Crosswinds Project to your list of must see jazz events would be prudent, enjoyable and highly recommended.
BILLY COBHAM’S CROSSWINDS PROJECT
Tuesday March 13th & 14th @ 8:00 pm
Billy Cobham – Drums
Paul Hanson – Bassoon, Saxophone
Fareed Haque – Guitar
Tim Landers – Bass
Scott Tibbs – Keys