LARGO — Billy Cobham will bring his Crosswinds Project featuring Randy Brecker to Pinellas for one performance Saturday, Sept. 21, 8 p.m., at Central Park Performing Arts Center, 105 Central Park Drive, Largo.
Tickets range from $34.50 to $49.50 plus service fee. Visit LargoArts.com or call 727-587-6793.
Considered one of the world’s greatest drummers, Cobham is widely revered for his musical ingenuity. The jazz-fusion virtuoso has contributed seminally as a master drummer, percussionist, composer, producer, educator, clinician and tireless musical explorer. With the same energy and exuberance he displayed in his youth, he forges ahead with an ever passionate commitment to innovation and service to the world through his music.
According to a biography provided by Sgent Nation, Cobham was born in Panama in 1944 and raised in Brooklyn, New York. Cobham was only 8 years old when he landed his first paid gig as a member of St. Catherine's Queensmen, a drum and bugle corps in St. Albans, Queens. He went on to attend New York's renowned Fiorella H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and the Performing Arts. There, he studied music theory and drum technique. While in the military from 1965 to 1968, Cobham played with the U.S. Army Band as a percussionist. After his service, he played in Horace Silver's Band, performed with Stanley Turrentine and Shirley Scott, and recorded with George Benson.
In 1969, Cobham co-founded the jazz-rock combo Dreams, which featured Randy Brecker, Michael Brecker, John Abercrombie, Don Grolnick, Barry Rodgers, and Will Lee. The following year, he joined Miles Davis' new fusion ensemble, and contributed to “Live-Evil,” “A Tribute to Jack Johnson” and the “Bitches Brew” sessions, where he collaborated with guitarist John McLaughlin.
In 1971, Cobham became a founding member of the jazz-fusion Mahavishnu Orchestra, along with McLaughlin, Jan Hammer, Jerry Goodman, and Rick Laird. This original group released three critically acclaimed albums, including “The Inner Mounting” (1971), “Birds of Fire” (1973) and “Between Nothingness and Eternity” (1973).
In 1973, Cobham released “Spectrum,” his debut solo album. It was a breakthrough in jazz-fusion that is universally recognized as one of the genre's most significant and influential creations. “Spectrum” was recorded at Jimi Hendrix's Electric Lady Studios in New York City. Cobham's lineup for the album featured Tommy Bolin on guitar, Jan Hammer on electric piano, moog synthesizer and piano and Lee Sklar on bass.
In 1974, the original lineup of the Mahavishnu Orchestra disbanded. Cobham continued to create innovative fusion material with the release of “Crosswinds” (1974), “Shabaz” (1974), “Total Eclipse” (1974), “A Funky Thide of Sings” (1975) and “Life and Times” (1976).
According to Sgent Nation, Billy Cobham's Crosswinds Project features Cobham on drums, Ernie Watts on sax, Martin Scales on guitar, Tim Landers on bass and Scott Tibbs on keys. Randy Brecker also will perform at the Central Park Performing Arts Center concert.
The Crosswinds Project will focus on the 1974 album in reflection of the originals through updated arrangements by Cobham. There will be two or three new compositions plus favorites such as "Red Baron," "Taurian Matador," "Quadrant Four" and "Stratus" to round out the show.
“Crosswinds” was recorded at Electric Lady Land Studios. The band consisted of Garnett Brown on trombone, Michael Brecker on woodwinds, Randy Brecker on trumpet, John Abercrombie on guitar, George Duke on keyboards, and Billy Cobham. Cobham co-produced that recording with Ken Scott. The material on the original CD includes "Pleasant Pheasant", "Spanish Moss" (a suite in four parts), "Heather" and "Crosswinds."