The legendary Billy Cobham join me on today’s show to discuss his upcoming “Art of the Rhythm Section” Retreat! We also chat about living in Europe, turning 70, and breaking into the NY studio scene.
The legendary Billy Cobham recently spoke with the folks at theartsdesk.com and answered questions about the 1973 album, Spectrum, coming up with his sound, and the next frontiers of jazz and fusion.
MATTHEW WRIGHT: When Spectrum was released in 1973, did you think you were doing something ground-breaking? How do you look back on that moment now?
BILLY COBHAM: It was a mistake. I didn’t know I was doing anything. I was making a record based on my experiences, based on who I’d worked with: I wasn’t going out of my way to break new ground, it was just who I was, that’s all the reputation means.
Andrew Gilbert of the Mercury News in San Jose has written a wonderful article on the life and accomplishments of recent PAS Hall of Fame Inductee, Billy Cobham. The article mainly focuses on Cobham as a bandleader.
For Cobham, the move into leading a band was fraught with insecurity. Along with Return to Forever’s Lenny White and Weather Report’s Alphonse Mouzon, he pioneered a dynamic new approach to the trap set that saw instrumental jazz win its first mass audience since the swing era. But many still considered drummers lesser musicians, incapable of or uninterested in composing and arranging.
“I needed to have a calling card, so I thought maybe I should make an album,” Cobham says. “I needed to figure out a way to survive. I knew I had at least two people to buy my record, my mom and dad. But I was petrified to lead a band from behind the drum set. I knew it could be done. Chick Webb and Louie Bellson and Max Roach had done it. But not me.”