Touched by Jimmy Cobb

SKF NOTE: It’s funny how musical energy and communication moves, travels invisibly.

Two days ago, May 23, I came across my digital copy of Miles Davis’s In Person Friday and Saturday Nights at the Blackhawk, Complete. My Macbook Pro had the set in a folder named Compilations, not in my Miles Davis folder. I immediately loaded Disc 1 onto my MP3 player.

Recorded live on April 21 and 22, 1961, In Person…at the Blackhawk is among my favorite Miles albums. Hank Mobley is on tenor sax – which makes this version of Miles’s band unique. The rhythm section is Wynton Kelly (piano), Paul Chambers (bass), and Jimmy Cobb on drums.

Right off the bat, Disc 1 Track 1, Sonny Rollins’s tune Oleo, the whole band takes off running as smooth as a Ferrari. A perfect rhythm section. And there’s Jimmy Cobb with his musical, slick use of brushes, motorvatin’ (to steal Chuck Berry’s lyric) the entire Quintet forward.

I listen close, admiring how the rhythm section sticks to the basics. Nobody’s showboating, each note, each chord is exactly right. Jimmy Cobb swings throughout, a lesson in the difficult art of playing simple. Knowing instinctively when one note is better than two.

This morning, May 25, I see Christian McBride’s Tweet: “Sir Jimmy Cobb. You swung loving energy to everyone. We will always love you. RIP.”

It seems to me, when the soul, the spirit of a great musician is transitioning to the spirit world from this world, they reach out with a burst of energy, a reminder, a parting thank you to everyone they touched while on Earth.

Thank you, Jimmy Cobb.

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