Jimmy Cobb, Drummer on Miles Davis’s ‘Kind of Blue,’ Dies at 91

Jimmy Cobb, a jazz drummer whose propulsive trip cymbal imbued numerous traditional recordings with a quiet depth, together with Miles Davis’s epochal album “Kind of Blue,” died on Sunday in Harlem. He was 91.

The trigger was lung most cancers, in keeping with his daughter Serena Cobb. As the one surviving member of the “Kind of Blue” sextet, Mr. Cobb had lengthy been hailed as a sort of final apostle of a defining second in American music.

His nice expertise was his capacity to play understatedly, virtually casually, with out letting the beat or the momentum sag. He not often took a solo.

For most of its tunes, Mr. Davis brought in only rough sketches of melody; all but one of its five tracks were recorded in single takes. Mr. Davis’s advice for his drummer at those sessions was simple. “He said, ‘Jimmy, you know what to do. Just make it sound like it’s floating,’” Mr. Cobb recalled.

He remained in Mr. Davis’s band for over four years and contributed to other landmark recordings: “Porgy and Bess,” “Sketches of Spain,” “Someday My Prince Will Come” and more.

Mr. Cobb knew what moved him, and what didn’t. When jazz turned toward the avant-garde in the 1960s, he stayed on course, relying on his regal status to find work with giants of the hard-bop era, often in Europe and Japan, after the clubs scene in New York had dried up.

James Wilbur Cobb was born on Jan. 20, 1929, at his home in Washington. His parents, Wilbur and Katherine (Bivens) Cobb, lived just blocks from U Street, which had recently become the center of the country’s most robust urban black middle class, as well as one of its greatest music scenes. His mother was a domestic worker, his father a security guard and taxi driver.

The couple separated when their children were young, and to help support his mother, Jimmy worked from an early age: shining shoes, delivering newspapers, toting heavy bags of ice for $5 a day. He spent summers working on his grandfather’s tobacco farm in Maryland.

He fell in love with the drums as a teenager, listening to modern-jazz records with a friend and using his knuckles to hammer out rhythms. Before his 20th birthday, he was working at clubs on U Street, sometimes accompanying stars who passed through town, like Billie Holiday and Charlie Parker.

Soon after they split up, he began to fill in here and there for Mr. Davis’s first-call drummer, Philly Joe Jones. Then one day in 1958, Mr. Davis called Mr. Cobb at his home in Queens about 6 p.m. and asked him if he could make a gig that night.

“I say, ‘Yeah, where?’” Mr. Cobb recalled. “He say, ‘Boston.’”

Mr. Cobb packed his drums and hustled to La Guardia Airport. He caught a plane and arrived at the club just as Mr. Davis’s band was starting to play “’Round Midnight.”

“When they got to this certain part,” he recalled, “I played this little break with them, and I was in the band. No rehearsal, no nothing.”

Source link Nytimes.com

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