Monday, May 25, 2020

Jimmy Cobb (1929 - 2020)

I'm sure a lot of people will be sharing their Jimmy Cobb stories in the coming days, but for what it's worth, here is mine.

Blue Train was the first jazz record I ever owned, but it was Kind of Blue that I first spent a long time with, analyzing, picking apart, transcribing, and, most importantly, playing along to.  It was the first time I realized that I didn't always have to play "the jazz ride cymbal pattern", and the first time I started to appreciate how to be supportive of the other members of the band.

At one point in college I lived on the third floor of an apartment block.  Being quite close quarters I couldn't really play full volume.  So, in the corner I crammed a tiny makeshift kit out of an old marching bass drum that I borrowed from the school of music and then stuffed with pillows; a crappy snare drum that was labelled as a Ludwig (though I have my doubts) which I filled with rolled up towels; and a cracked 18' ride cymbal covered in duct tape.

I sat behind that kit and played "So What" and "Freddie Freeloader" on loop again, and again, and again.  I would play it with nothing but quarter notes on the ride; I would copy Jimmy's comping; I would try to sing the solos while playing time; I tried to emulate that wicked buzz roll in "So What".

Just a few years ago I was lucky enough to see Jimmy play at Ronnie Scott's here in London.  I always feel bad trying to chat to musicians who have just finished a gig, especially the likes of greats such as Jimmy Cobb as everybody and their mother wants a picture, an autograph, a handshake, etc.  So I never did say anything to him, but I kind of wish I had.  He probably hears it all the time, but it would have been great to tell him how much I learned from him, and how much time I spent/spend with his music.

Thanks, Jimmy.

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