BILLY COBHAM
Classic Fusion / Post Bop / World Fusion / Big Band / Afro-Cuban Jazz • United States

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Billy Cobham, born May 16, 1944 in Panama, is one of the world's most influential drummers, best known for his jazz fusion in the 1970s, with John McLaughlin's Mahavishnu Orchestra, where he pioneered a powerful style of drumming with jazz, rock and funk influences.

He is the first drummer to unseat Buddy Rich in the Down Beat music polls.

Cobham has played and recorded with hundreds of top musicians, including Miles Davis, Freddie Hubbard, Larry Coryell, and Horace Silver; and is famous for his explosive, fast, spectacular playing.

He has been sampled, most famously by Massive Attack in their tune "Safe from Harm", centered on the beat and bassline of Cobham's "Stratus", from his debut album Spectrum, as well as on Souls of Mischief's "93 Til Infinity" from the song "Heather" on his album "Crosswinds."

Fans of Cobham's should check out the "Spectrum" lp featuring Tommy Bolin (of Deep Purple,
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B.C. ( Wounded Bird 2015 Reissue with Bonus Track)B.C. ( Wounded Bird 2015 Reissue with Bonus Track)
Extra tracks
Wounded Bird Records 2015
Audio CD$8.11
$8.10 (used)
CrosswindsCrosswinds
Import · Remastered
Rhino/Wea UK 2001
Audio CD$4.90
$3.90 (used)
Original Album SeriesOriginal Album Series
Box set · Import
WARNER BROS UK 2012
Audio CD$12.26
The Atlantic Box Set 1973-1978 (8CD)The Atlantic Box Set 1973-1978 (8CD)
Box set
Atlantic Catalog Group 2015
Audio CD$27.89
SpectrumSpectrum
Atlantic 1992
Audio CD$9.45
$1.75 (used)
A Funky Thide of SingsA Funky Thide of Sings
Atlantic
Vinyl$9.00 (used)
MagicMagic
Import
Imports 2016
Audio CD$11.39
$13.15 (used)
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Life & Times, Billy Cobham,Excellent, (NM-)  This record won't be perfect and ma Life & Times, Billy Cobham,Excellent, (NM-) This record won't be perfect and ma USD $13.04 Buy It Now 2h 39m
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12h
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BILLY COBHAM - Total Eclipse - CD - **Mint Condition** BILLY COBHAM - Total Eclipse - CD - **Mint Condition** USD $14.95 Buy It Now 17h
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17h
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The Best of Billy Cobham  (CD 1987) NRMT CD His 1970's Recordings 8 Songs The Best of Billy Cobham (CD 1987) NRMT CD His 1970's Recordings 8 Songs USD $7.99 Buy It Now 20h
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BILLY COBHAM - Billy's Best Hits - CD - **BRAND NEW/STILL SEALED** BILLY COBHAM - Billy's Best Hits - CD - **BRAND NEW/STILL SEALED** USD $17.49 Buy It Now 22h
BILLY COBHAM-SPECTRUM LP-ORIGINAL 1973 GATEFOLD COVER LP-SHEEN VINYL BILLY COBHAM-SPECTRUM LP-ORIGINAL 1973 GATEFOLD COVER LP-SHEEN VINYL USD $13.50 (5 bids)
1 day
Billy Cobham - Spectrum (Atlantic CD) Billy Cobham - Spectrum (Atlantic CD) USD $5.58 (0 bids)
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Billy Cobham - Spectrum - CD - New Billy Cobham - Spectrum - CD - New USD $8.87 Buy It Now 1 day
Billy Cobham - Spectrum (International Release) - CD - New Billy Cobham - Spectrum (International Release) - CD - New USD $8.87 Buy It Now 1 day
Billy Cobham - The Best Of Billy Cobham - CD - New Billy Cobham - The Best Of Billy Cobham - CD - New USD $10.58 Buy It Now 1 day
Billy Cobham - Crosswinds - CD - New Billy Cobham - Crosswinds - CD - New USD $8.87 Buy It Now 1 day
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Billy Cobham - Spectrum - CD - Ne Billy Cobham - Spectrum - CD - Ne USD $10.58 Buy It Now 1 day
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Compass Point by Billy Cobham (CD, Jul-2013, 2 Discs, Cleopatra) Compass Point by Billy Cobham (CD, Jul-2013, 2 Discs, Cleopatra) USD $11.04 Buy It Now 1 day
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CD : Billy Cobham - Power Play (1986) Made in Japan CD : Billy Cobham - Power Play (1986) Made in Japan USD $8.99 Buy It Now 1 day
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The Best of Billy Cobham — LP Record — 1979 The Best of Billy Cobham — LP Record — 1979 USD $9.99 Buy It Now 1 day
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BILLY COBHAM  Crosswinds  8 Track Tape BILLY COBHAM Crosswinds 8 Track Tape USD $8.00 Buy It Now 1 day
BILLY COBHAM  Total Eclipse  8 Track Tape BILLY COBHAM Total Eclipse 8 Track Tape USD $8.00 Buy It Now 1 day
9-LP Mahavishnu Orchestra HERBIE HANCOCK Billy Cobham BRIAN AUGER Jean-Luc Ponty 9-LP Mahavishnu Orchestra HERBIE HANCOCK Billy Cobham BRIAN AUGER Jean-Luc Ponty USD $9.99 (0 bids)
1 day
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LP Billy Cobham Simplicity Of Expression 25AP1003 CBS Sony Japan Vinyl 2606 LP Billy Cobham Simplicity Of Expression 25AP1003 CBS Sony Japan Vinyl 2606 USD $2.25 (2 bids)
1 day
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Billy Cobham - Warning [New CD] Billy Cobham - Warning [New CD] USD $13.14 Buy It Now 1 day
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Misc Styles(23) - Mix&Match Music CDs U Pick *NO CASE DISC ONLY* Misc Styles(23) - Mix&Match Music CDs U Pick *NO CASE DISC ONLY* USD $2.63 Buy It Now 1 day
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BILLY COBHAM'S GLASS MENAGERIE - OBSERVATIONS & - JAZZ VINYL LP 1982 ELEKTRA BILLY COBHAM'S GLASS MENAGERIE - OBSERVATIONS & - JAZZ VINYL LP 1982 ELEKTRA USD $20.98 Buy It Now 1 day
`Cobham, Billy`-`Cobham, Billy - The Art Of Three`  VINYL LP NEW `Cobham, Billy`-`Cobham, Billy - The Art Of Three` VINYL LP NEW USD $16.70 Buy It Now 1 day
JAZZ LP: Airto JAZZ LP: Airto "Virgin Land" Billy Cobham 1974 USD $15.86 Buy It Now 1 day
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BILLY COBHAM - Crosswinds - CD BILLY COBHAM - Crosswinds - CD USD $18.49 Buy It Now 1 day
BILLY COBHAM SPECTRUM DON ELLIS TEARS OF JOY 3 LPS BILLY COBHAM SPECTRUM DON ELLIS TEARS OF JOY 3 LPS USD $8.00 (0 bids)
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Billy Cobham-Art of Four  CD NEW Billy Cobham-Art of Four CD NEW USD $9.85 Buy It Now 2 days
Billy Cobham-Culture Mix  CD NEW Billy Cobham-Culture Mix CD NEW USD $9.85 Buy It Now 2 days
BILLY COBHAM: Puffnstuff / Ac/dc 12 (dj) Soul BILLY COBHAM: Puffnstuff / Ac/dc 12 (dj) Soul USD $6.00 Buy It Now 2 days
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BILLY COBHAM: What Is Your Fantasy / Same 45 (dj) Soul BILLY COBHAM: What Is Your Fantasy / Same 45 (dj) Soul USD $10.00 Buy It Now 2 days
Billy Cobham - Spectrum  (CD, Feb-1992, Rhino (Label)) Billy Cobham - Spectrum (CD, Feb-1992, Rhino (Label)) USD $5.99 Buy It Now 2 days
Billy Cobham, Ole Rockberger, Neil Jason, - Heaven Help Us All  U.S. cd  sealed Billy Cobham, Ole Rockberger, Neil Jason, - Heaven Help Us All U.S. cd sealed USD $5.95 Buy It Now 2 days
Billy Cobham - Crosswind / Le Lis 7 Billy Cobham - Crosswind / Le Lis 7" Single Jazz Samples USD $10.00 Buy It Now 2 days
BILLY COBHAM Shabazz 1975 PROMO LP w/ DJ sticker~SD 18139 BILLY COBHAM Shabazz 1975 PROMO LP w/ DJ sticker~SD 18139 USD $9.99 (0 bids)
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BILLY COBHAM Crosswinds LP~1974~SD 7300 BILLY COBHAM Crosswinds LP~1974~SD 7300 USD $7.99 (0 bids)
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20 Jazz 7 20 Jazz 7" 45 RPM Records Billy Cobham Eddie Harris Tom Scott Jack McDuff Soul USD $30.00 Buy It Now 2 days
JACO PASTORIUS Anthology Warner Bros + BILLY COBHAM Mirror's Image 2xLP Sealed  JACO PASTORIUS Anthology Warner Bros + BILLY COBHAM Mirror's Image 2xLP Sealed USD $42.89 (0 bids)
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DEODATO Prelude LP CTI RECORDS CTI 6021 US 1973 JAZZ FUNK RVG ST Billy Cobham DEODATO Prelude LP CTI RECORDS CTI 6021 US 1973 JAZZ FUNK RVG ST Billy Cobham USD $8.99 Buy It Now 2 days
Billy Cobham Crosswinds 12 Billy Cobham Crosswinds 12"LP VG/VG Atlantic SD7300 1974 USD $10.00 Buy It Now 2 days
What Is Your Fantasy / Bring Up The H Billy Cobham 1979 Vinyl (ID:14843) What Is Your Fantasy / Bring Up The H Billy Cobham 1979 Vinyl (ID:14843) USD $6.27 Buy It Now 2 days
Billy Cobham - Spectrum: Classic Jazz Fusion on CD Incs; Stratus - Free UK Post Billy Cobham - Spectrum: Classic Jazz Fusion on CD Incs; Stratus - Free UK Post USD $6.65 Buy It Now 2 days
BILLY COBHAM - THE ATLANTIC YEARS, 1973-1978 NEW CD BILLY COBHAM - THE ATLANTIC YEARS, 1973-1978 NEW CD USD $29.56 Buy It Now 2 days
Billy Cobham - Best of Billy Cobham feat. George Duke Billy Cobham - Best of Billy Cobham feat. George Duke USD $4.88 Buy It Now 2 days
Stratus [7' VINYL - BRAND NEW] by Billy Cobham Stratus [7' VINYL - BRAND NEW] by Billy Cobham USD $19.16 Buy It Now 2 days
BILLY COBHAM Shabazz Tour 1975 UK Poster size Press ADVERT 16x12 inches BILLY COBHAM Shabazz Tour 1975 UK Poster size Press ADVERT 16x12 inches USD $13.92 Buy It Now 2 days
 KENNY BURRELL GOD BLESS THE CHILD RON CARTER BILLY COBHAM HUBERT LAWS KENNY BURRELL GOD BLESS THE CHILD RON CARTER BILLY COBHAM HUBERT LAWS USD $20.00 Buy It Now 2 days
BILLY COBHAM-PICTURE THIS-GRP GR-1040 NEW SEALED LP BILLY COBHAM-PICTURE THIS-GRP GR-1040 NEW SEALED LP USD $7.98 Buy It Now 2 days
BILLY COBHAM - Shabazz - CD BILLY COBHAM - Shabazz - CD USD $22.75 Buy It Now 2 days
BILLY COBHAM+Crosswinds+RARE ORIGINAL 1974 POSTER AD+ FRAMED+EXPRESS GLOBAL SHIP BILLY COBHAM+Crosswinds+RARE ORIGINAL 1974 POSTER AD+ FRAMED+EXPRESS GLOBAL SHIP USD $97.88 Buy It Now 2 days
MAHAVISHNU JOHN McLAUGHLIN My Goal's Beyond Charlie Haden LP Billy Cobham Airto MAHAVISHNU JOHN McLAUGHLIN My Goal's Beyond Charlie Haden LP Billy Cobham Airto USD $19.97 Buy It Now 2 days
DREAMS Billy COBHAM self titled VINYL LP record Columbia 30225 1970 album EX/VG+ DREAMS Billy COBHAM self titled VINYL LP record Columbia 30225 1970 album EX/VG+ USD $9.99 Buy It Now 2 days
Gato Barbieri, Billy Cobham, more KKSF 103.7 SAMPLER FOR AIDS RELIEF 1989 tape Gato Barbieri, Billy Cobham, more KKSF 103.7 SAMPLER FOR AIDS RELIEF 1989 tape USD $9.99 Buy It Now 2 days
Billy Cobham - Spectrum [New CD] Billy Cobham - Spectrum [New CD] USD $15.26 Buy It Now 2 days
BILLY COBHAM - BILLY COBHAM - "POWER PLAY" - 13 TRACK MUSIC CD - LIKE NEW - G376 USD $9.88 Buy It Now 3 days
Picture This - Billy Cobham Compact Disc Picture This - Billy Cobham Compact Disc USD $16.08 Buy It Now 3 days
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BILLY COBHAM Discography

BILLY COBHAM albums / top albums

.. Album Cover 4.43 | 38 ratings
Spectrum
Classic Fusion 1973
.. Album Cover 3.62 | 9 ratings
Crosswinds
Classic Fusion 1974
.. Album Cover 3.26 | 10 ratings
Total Eclipse
Classic Fusion 1974
.. Album Cover 3.10 | 6 ratings
A Funky Thide of Sings
Classic Fusion 1975
.. Album Cover 4.40 | 5 ratings
Life & Times
Classic Fusion 1976
.. Album Cover 2.50 | 3 ratings
Magic
Classic Fusion 1977
.. Album Cover 4.50 | 1 ratings
Alivemutherforya (with Steve Khan / Alphonso Johnson / Tom Scott)
Classic Fusion 1978
.. Album Cover 2.67 | 3 ratings
Inner Conflicts
Classic Fusion 1978
.. Album Cover 3.00 | 1 ratings
Simplicity Of Expression - Depth Of Thought
Classic Fusion 1978
.. Album Cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
B.C.
Classic Fusion 1979
.. Album Cover 2.83 | 3 ratings
Stratus
Classic Fusion 1981
.. Album Cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Observations &
Classic Fusion 1982
.. Album Cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Smokin'
Classic Fusion 1983
.. Album Cover 2.00 | 1 ratings
Warning
Classic Fusion 1985
.. Album Cover 2.00 | 1 ratings
Powerplay
Classic Fusion 1986
.. Album Cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Picture This
Classic Fusion 1987
.. Album Cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Incoming
Classic Fusion 1989
.. Album Cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
By Design
Classic Fusion 1992
.. Album Cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
The Traveler
Classic Fusion 1994
.. Album Cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Nordic
Classic Fusion 1996
.. Album Cover 4.00 | 1 ratings
Paradox
Classic Fusion 1996
.. Album Cover 3.00 | 1 ratings
Focused
Classic Fusion 1998
.. Album Cover 2.00 | 1 ratings
Off Color (with Nordic)
Classic Fusion 1999
.. Album Cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Billy Cobham Presents North By Northwest
Classic Fusion 2000
.. Album Cover 3.00 | 1 ratings
Drum'n'voice: All That Groove
Classic Fusion 2001
.. Album Cover 3.25 | 2 ratings
Culture Mix
Classic Fusion 2002
.. Album Cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Art of Five
Post Bop 2003
.. Album Cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Colours (with Culturemix)
World Fusion 2004
.. Album Cover 3.00 | 1 ratings
Art of Four
Post Bop 2006
.. Album Cover 3.00 | 1 ratings
Drum & Voice 2
Classic Fusion 2006
.. Album Cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Meeting of the Spirits: A Celebration of the Mahavishnu Orchestra (with Colin Towns / HR-Bigband)
Classic Fusion 2007
.. Album Cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
De Cuba Y De Panama (with Asere)
Afro-Cuban Jazz 2008
.. Album Cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Drum n Voice vol. 3
Classic Fusion 2010
.. Album Cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Fruit From The Loom
Classic Fusion 2010
.. Album Cover 2.50 | 1 ratings
Palindrome
Classic Fusion 2010
.. Album Cover 3.00 | 1 ratings
Tales from the Skeleton Coast
World Fusion 2014
.. Album Cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Billy Cobham & Frankfurt Radio Big Band : Broad Horizon
Big Band 2016
.. Album Cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Drum N Voice Vol 4
Classic Fusion 2016

BILLY COBHAM EPs & splits

BILLY COBHAM live albums

.. Album Cover 4.61 | 14 ratings
Shabazz
Classic Fusion 1975
.. Album Cover 4.00 | 1 ratings
Live on Tour in Europe
Classic Fusion 1976
.. Album Cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Flight Time
Classic Fusion 1986
.. Album Cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Live In Rome
Classic Fusion 2000
.. Album Cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
The Art of Three
Post Bop 2001
.. Album Cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Mississippi Knights: Live
Classic Fusion 2003
.. Album Cover 4.00 | 2 ratings
The Art Of Three: Live in Japan 2003
Post Bop 2003
.. Album Cover 3.00 | 1 ratings
Live In Leverkusen
Classic Fusion 2011
.. Album Cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Compass Point
Classic Fusion 2013
.. Album Cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Mirror's Image
Classic Fusion 2015
.. Album Cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Reflected Journey
Classic Fusion 2015
.. Album Cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Spectrum 40 Live
Classic Fusion 2015
.. Album Cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Ayajala Live
Classic Fusion 2016

BILLY COBHAM demos, promos, fans club and other releases (no bootlegs)

BILLY COBHAM re-issues & compilations

.. Album Cover 4.08 | 3 ratings
The Best Of
Classic Fusion 1979
.. Album Cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Billy Cobham Meets Richard Davis
Classic Fusion 1980
.. Album Cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Billy's Best Hits
Classic Fusion 1988
.. Album Cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Magic / Simplicity of Expression: Depth of Thought
Classic Fusion 1999
.. Album Cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
The Billy Cobham Anthology
Classic Fusion 2001
.. Album Cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Radioactive
Classic Fusion 2005
.. Album Cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Drum 'N' Voice Vol. 1 + 2 All That Groove
Classic Fusion 2006
.. Album Cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
The Atlantic Years 1973-1978
Classic Fusion 2015
.. Album Cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Drum 'N' Voice,Vol.1-4
Classic Fusion 2017

BILLY COBHAM singles (0)

BILLY COBHAM movies (DVD, Blu-Ray or VHS)

.. Album Cover
0.00 | 0 ratings
Jazz Legends: Billy Cobham - Live Palais Des Festivals Hall Cannes 1989
Classic Fusion 2004
.. Album Cover
0.00 | 0 ratings
A Latin Soul
World Fusion 2007

BILLY COBHAM Reviews

BILLY COBHAM Spectrum

Album · 1973 · Classic Fusion
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
AtomicCrimsonRush
Mahavishnu Orchestra legend Billy Cobham is one of the drum masters and on his debut album he unleashes a furious tirade of percussion madness along with his amazing congregation of virtuoso musicians. The opening track of "Spectrum", 'Quadrant 4', is an incredible adrenaline charged belter, featuring frenetic lead guitar of Bolin that blazes with wah wah and high string bends that will astonish. There is a strong jazz rock feel present with the percussion but it is the lead guitar soloing and the Moog solos that makes this a masterpiece track.

Next up is a drum solo that is very emotionally riven ranging from outbursts to restrained measured tempos. The track 'Searching For The Right Door/ Spectrum' is certainly a jazz fest of woodwind, bass, drums and guitar virtuosity. The sax soloing is as mind blowing as Banton at his best.

Next is 'Anxiety/ Taurian Matador' that is again broken into 2 sections, the first being a short interlude of drum power, and then an outbreak of jazz lunacy. Bolin's guitar work is excellent again, with trade offs between the Hammer's keyboard phrases.

'Stratus' follows a 9:50 piece, that received accolades over the years and even reached the masses as an edited single. I love Sklar's pulsating bass on this and melodic hooks that lock into a cool groove. This one simmers along beautifully, with some psych space rock sounds, and an overall jamming vibe like the psychedelic 60s.

Next is 'To The Women In My Life/ Le Lis' with piano at first and then reaching deep into a well of Latin tones on trumpets. The funky vibe is cool but this is not my favourite style, though not a bad break from the wild music previous. 'Snoopy's Search/ Red Baron' follows, opening with space invader electronic effects that are outdated but fun in a retro sense. Then a cool as ice jazz groove locks in with some great guitar work.

Overall this is an incredible procession of jazz brilliance focussing on the drums, similar to the infamous "Let There Be Drums". At least one of the tracks here ends up on a compilation, sometimes all three 'Quantum 4', 'Stratus' and 'Snoopy's Baron', and sometimes even more. It certainly is one of the best jazz fusion albums I have heard, on a par with Mahavishnu Orchestra.

BILLY COBHAM Spectrum

Album · 1973 · Classic Fusion
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
Warthur
Recorded just under a fortnight before the abotive sessions for the Mahavishnu Orchestra's third studio album (which would eventually see release as The Lost Trident Sessions), Billy Cobham's solo Spectrum is a drumming tour de force which also showcases Tommy Bolin's guitar mastery. Fellow Mahavishnu member Jan Hammer gets to indulge a quirkier side of his keyboard playing, and in general the album has a lighter and more playful mood than, say, The Inner Mounting Flame and Birds of Fire. Short, brief, and to the point, the album is a great listen for anyone wanting to explore the classic Mahavishnu lineup's careers beyond the group's first few albums.

BILLY COBHAM Spectrum

Album · 1973 · Classic Fusion
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
dreadpirateroberts
Cobham delivers quite an attack on his first solo album, developing a style of fusion that it is somehow both aggressive and smooth – the funk is mostly fast and the rock is mostly flowing, creating something both unlike the ‘Mahavishnu Orchestra’ and deeply indebted to it at the same time.

‘Spectrum’ is fairly relentless, firing away right off the mark, where Cobham’s charging drums compete with solos from Hammer and Bolin in ‘Quadrant 4.’ It sets the tone for much of the album, though hardly all of it. Billy has certainly gathered a great lineup, and they manage to get a lot out of the ‘full steam’ ahead approach to some of the music, but probably more enjoyable to me are the funkier, somewhat slower pieces. These establish more of a groove, like ‘Taurian Matador’ or the fantastic ‘Stratus’ which is led by the beat and wonderfully effective bass line from Lee Sklar. The piece has a more relaxed feel, as if no-one is trying to impress anyone, listener or each other, but is instead having a great time. Everyone feeds off the vibe, whether it’s the keys or the wonderful lead work from Bolin.

Certainly every piece isn’t a wondrous composition but there are enough great moments on the record to make for pretty exciting stuff. While not a highlight, ‘Red Baron’ is certainly fun and elsewhere flute and saxes add welcome texture to the record, as ‘Spectrum’ sometimes suffers (to my ears) from an unpleasant synth sound. This isn’t an awful thing by any stretch, but I just didn’t enjoy it all that much.

But overall? Four stars easy.

BILLY COBHAM Spectrum

Album · 1973 · Classic Fusion
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J-Man
Having already established himself as one of fusion's greatest drummers through his work with Miles Davis and Mahavishnu Orchestra, Billy Cobham's first solo album even further secured his position as a drumming god. Throughout the course of Spectrum, Billy Cobham and company dish out some of the most impressive playing you'll ever hear on a fusion album - not at all surprising when you take a look at the star-studded lineup including Tommy Bolin on guitar, Jan Hammer on keyboards, and Lee Sklar on bass (to name but a few). In addition to being an unbelievable journey of virtuosic musicianship, Spectrum is also one of the most important albums in early seventies' fusion. While there's still a very firm root in jazz music, Cobham lets more rock and funk into his sound than many other fusion players were doing at the time. In short, Spectrum is an innovative, technically astounding, and downright essential example of classic fusion.

Spectrum shows us right from the very beginning that this is an album that's every bit as directed towards the rock audience as it is for the jazz crowd - the blistering opening number "Quadrant 4" makes it clear through its fast-paced drumming and rapid fire guitar and keyboard soloing that this is one of the more unique fusion albums from its time period. The rest of the album rides the border between rock, fusion, and funk, often melding the three into a mix that's distinctly Cobham's own. Most of the album is excellent, but the title track, "Le Lis", and "Red Baron" have always stood out to me as particularly great. Though most folks disagree, I do find Spectrum occasionally drifting into endless displays of technicality rather than anything particularly memorable - though the whole album makes for a fun listen, not all of it is especially noteworthy once its playing time is over. I think this is something that Cobham perfected on future releases, and I actually regard Total Eclipse as a much more consistent release than Spectrum. That's not to discount the music on Spectrum, however - Cobham clearly wrote some great tunes for this album, but I just tend to think that his skills sharpened even more over the next few albums.

Even though Spectrum may not be my favorite release from Billy Cobham, there's still no denying that this is a spectacular classic fusion album. The musicianship is through the roof, the production is sleek and professional, and the majority of the music here is memorable - factor in the historical importance, and it looks like Spectrum is an essential listen for any fan of the genre. I always have a great time when I hear Spectrum, and I'd say 4 stars are well-deserved for this impressive debut.

BILLY COBHAM Shabazz

Live album · 1975 · Classic Fusion
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js
One of the finest jazz fusion records ever produced, "Shabazz" utilizes similar psychedelic effects and avant-garde tendencies similar to other classics, such as "Agharta" or "Crossings", but "Shabazz" goes for the high octane energy, rather than the subterranean grooves of the other two. Billy Cobham plays at break-neck speed for most of this album and the rest of the band has no problem keeping up and adding to the fiercely kinetic jams that always threaten to explode into chaos. One of the interesting things about fusion during this era was the influence it had absorbed from psychedelic rock. This album is full of wah- wah pedals and tape delays as well as analog synthesizers being used to their extreme. Randy Brecker in particular uses the wah- echo effects on his trumpet to create fresh textures and add a lot of variety to his solos. Keyboardist Milcho Leviev moves beyond the typical jazz fusion synth soloist and utilizes the synthesizer's ability to shape pure sound in building his solos.

The music on this album sometimes has its roots in funk-jazz, but as the different solos build, the band veers close to free jazz. These players have so much confidence in each other that they can easily move from chaotic sections to being back in the groove with only a quick drum signal from Cobham to reel them in. Milcho Leviev in particular shows a lot of influence from avant-jazz artists such as Sun Ra and Cecil Taylor.

If you like 70s jazz-rock I would highly recommend this album for its combustible energy and sheer sense of joy. Albums where the musicians are this much in tune with each other are rare.

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