January 20, 1929-May 24, 2020
"Off Thee We Swing."
Jimmy Cobb, NEA Jazz Master, died at age 91 on May. 24, 2020. Jimmy of course played on Miles Davis' "Kind of Blue," which was released in 1959. He also performed at the Keystone Korner in Baltimore, January 10-12, 2020. That means his career spanned 60 years after "Kind of Blue," simply amazing. He played with everyone, or should we say, everyone, played with him.
Skimming his discography requires extensive use of the scroll wheel. While doing so, I saw a somewhat forgotten favorite, Geri Allen's album Timeless Portraits and Dreams. There are several exceptional players to be heard. Still, it's the rhythm section of Geri, Jimmy, and Ron Carter that quickly enables you to understand pianist Todd Barkan's eulogistic twitter comment, "Off Thee We Swing." (I so wish that was my line - Ed.)
Another example of Jimmy Cobb's profound effect on a rhythm section can be heard on Wes Montgomery and Wynton Kelly's live album Smokin' At The Half Note. While arguably true of any album grounded by Jimmy, Wynton Kelly, piano; and Paul Chambers, bass, this classic is a must-own.
The Buffalo Jazz website is where we found the Todd Barkan quote. They also put up other musicians' quotes on Jimmy's passing and some excellent photos.
The Rolling Stone piece on Jimmy is brief but has a few interesting facts and a great recent picture of him that depicts the elder statesman, nicely contrasted with the intense young man in the Seacoast Jazz Notes photo.
The Jazz Times has one of more complete pieces on Jimmy and the Percussive Arts Society article is worth your time too.
Lastly, our personal favorites, The Guardian, and WBGO. If you're too busy to read all the jazz commentary links that we've provided, at least check out these two.
Rick Beato is a music producer and somewhat of a YouTube content entrepreneur/impresario. His tribute to Jimmy is enthusiastic and informational. Rick's clearly a fan and very respectful.
The amount of landmark music that Jimmy Cobb was the foundation of is mindboggling. When friends talk music, the question comes up, "if you could only have x number of albums, what would they be?" For most Seacoast Jazz Notes readers, that question cannot be answered. We can't limit ourselves to a handful. Jimmy Cobb resolves this issue, all you need is every album that he played on. It is not always just him; It's what his lifetime of great playing was a part of.
He is and will be respected by all that hear him. "Off Thee We Swing."