Cincinnati Babyhead

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Jazz Record : Billy Cobham – Spectrum

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Billy wastes no time getting into this recording. This is exactly what I was wanting. Cobham and his band are cooking right off the top with ‘Quadrant 4’ (Linked below) Jan Hammer on keyboards, Lee Sklar on bass and Tommy Bolin laying down some very good guitar licks . Jan and Tommy especially wig out. This is the kind of Jazz and music I was eating up at the time. Still sounds good to my ears. Not light easy music.

I was and am a big fan of Mahavishnu Orchestra, my first exposure to BC. A friends older brother (Dave the roadie) pushed me towards Cobham’s solo records. This was the second one I got into (Crosswinds was the first). I always dug drummers and drum solos, Baker, Palmer, Bruford so getting into Cobham was a no brainer. The guy is fantastic.

I’ll remind you of all the similar music I was listening to, Mahavishnu, Return To Forever, Larry Coryell, Zappa. King Crimson, Yes. I especially liked it when they let loose and ripped some loud aggressive noise. Billy does it on this record. Jan Hammer and Tommy Bolin picked up on that vibe and they both do some really good work.

This was my first time hearing Tommy Bolin. He went onto the James Gang, Deep Purple and solo records but this is where I found him and it’s where I enjoyed him the most.

backcover2

I got this record to hear Billy bang away and he does. But he also brings some very good people along to help make some very good music. Lots of musical ideas here.

You want a good feel for some electric jazz, fusion, progressive rock, ‘Status’ would be a good one to listen to. The original has a 3 minute spacey lead in but I give you the shorter version below. It kicks into another gear and takes off into a very hard jazz/rock, funk groove with Billy and Lee (Groove city) laying it down and Tommy and Jan filling in with some great work. I love this tune. They all kill it on this one. Listen to BC’s work on this. Is it me or is that not killer? If you like Jeff Beck’s ‘Blow By Blow’ I think this will fit the bill. I still get jacked when I hear this song and this album. A young CB was getting his mind blown with this stuff. I know there’s a few of you Deep Purple guys and gals out there. Check out Bolin on this early work. You won’t be disappointed.

Cobham spent a lot of years with John Mac so he must have got a charge out of a young Tommy Bolin laying down some great hard licks. I love it. Jan (Billy’s old Mahavishnu band mate) doing the same thing on keys. Lee Sklar just grooves on this with Billy doing what he does best. I could listen to a jam on this for hours. Not a lot of traditional type jazz tunes on here but a few with a different lineup that work well

‘Red Baron’ is the last cut. Not as bombastic as ‘Stratus’ but still lays down a solid groove. Cobham doesn’t steal the show. He lets the other musicians do their thing. Good way to end the album. Just left me wanting more of these guys.

This is the kind of jazz that got me started in that genre. It sent me to the older stuff later on.. It might be  hard on traditionalists but it is still jazz played by good musicians and I really like it. I might have come at it from an opposite direction but I still got it all.

(A great homage to the ‘Stratus’ cut by Govt Mule and John Scofield. A live 17 minute jam if you got the guts? CB thinks he’s a tough guy))

28 comments on “Jazz Record : Billy Cobham – Spectrum

  1. Jim S.
    November 29, 2020

    Oh, yeah. CB gave me the heads up that he had something good cooking. Great album. I think I featured one of the cuts in some fashion a while back. I was knee-deep in exactly the same shit back when fusion was THE thing. I saw Cobham a handful of years ago at a small club. Less fusion-y but still great. I checked his website out. Looks like he does master’s classes online. I tried to play drums once but “My right foot’s bigger than my other foot is.” (Extra credit if CB gets that one.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • cincinnatibabyhead
      November 29, 2020

      He was a scary guy behind the kit. I love this record and a bunch like it.
      Bells are going off on that last sentence of yours.

      Like

      • Jim S.
        November 29, 2020

        I know CB isn’t big on trivia but that’s a Zappa tune I think he knows.

        Liked by 1 person

      • cincinnatibabyhead
        November 30, 2020

        Of course “Zomby Woof” I knew I knew it.

        Like

      • Jim S.
        November 30, 2020

        Ah, see. It turns out CB is good at trivia and a lot smarter than he looks in that picture

        Liked by 1 person

      • cincinnatibabyhead
        November 30, 2020

        Not really but a tune or a lyric will play in my head and I’m like a dog with a bone I keep at it until the song comes to me.

        Like

  2. BuriedOnMars
    November 29, 2020

    Groovy.

    Liked by 1 person

    • cincinnatibabyhead
      November 29, 2020

      If I recall Mars, you’re a bit of a Purple guy. Is Bolin on any of their records you dig?

      Liked by 1 person

      • BuriedOnMars
        November 30, 2020

        I think he did for a short stint. Mike Ladano or John from 2Loud would know better than me. They sure could use him now since jazz seems to be the direction the band has gone in.

        Liked by 1 person

      • cincinnatibabyhead
        November 30, 2020

        Thanks Mars. I’ll have to check out that jazzy DP.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Yeah, Another Blogger
    November 29, 2020

    Hey CB. Cobham has maintained an active career. When the pandemic fades away, he will be back on the road, hopefully. Ditto for thousands and thousands of other musicians. See you!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. 1537
    November 29, 2020

    One of my very favourites. I branched out and got a couple more of Cobham’s but they’re a bit on the wild, atonal side for me.

    I came to this through Massive Attack sampling Spectrum – always a good musical education.

    Liked by 1 person

    • cincinnatibabyhead
      November 29, 2020

      Mixed bag with Bill. He’s all over my pile playing and helping out on other folks records. I dig the guy
      What is this ‘Massive Attack’ you are eluding to? You know you got my attention.

      Liked by 1 person

      • 1537
        November 29, 2020

        Stay tuned I’ll fit in a review (may take a week or 5).

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Vinyl Connection
    November 30, 2020

    Man, what a debut! Though after serving in the Mahavishnu Orchestra, you’d expect some fireworks, eh? Love this one, CB. And the next two as well: the funkier Crosswinds and the proggier Total Eclipse. Great stuff.

    Liked by 1 person

    • cincinnatibabyhead
      November 30, 2020

      I forget to mention this was a debut. ‘Crosswinds’ was my intro to his solo work. ‘Eclipse’ is a good one. Like I sad to our friend 1537, Billy is all over my music pile. I kinda felt you’d chime in. The Mahavishnu Orcchestra is on my A list of bands.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. hotfox63
    November 30, 2020

    There were quite a few vain and boring performances in fusion music at the time, but not by Billy Cobham. “Spectrum” is an entertaining and exciting album that I’ve always enjoy listening again.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. keepsmealive
    November 30, 2020

    Not easy music, no, but I’ve got the guts. For this stuff, I’m all-in. Excellent work, sir!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. 1dancequeendq
    November 30, 2020

    I really have to be “in the mood” for Billy Cobham but this tune is one of his easier pieces. I came to him accidentally through jazz fusion/funk. Still, I can’t deny his influences on listeners and musicians.

    Liked by 1 person

    • cincinnatibabyhead
      November 30, 2020

      Hey Queen. You and I meet on a lot of common ground. I know exactly where you came in with Billy, probably when he hooked up with George Duke. I dig that stuff too. But where i cut my teeth with BC was in the Mahavishnu Orchestra. That music is not everyone’s cup of tea but I absolutely dig it. Thanks for dropping by the shop.

      Like

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