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Jimmy Cobb: The Reluctant Don

Cobb's Mob
L to R: Richard Wyands, John Webber, Jimmy Cobb, Peter Bernstein (photo: John Abbott)
Jimmy Cobb playing with Miles Davis in the late 1950s
Jimmy Cobb playing with Miles Davis in the late 1950s (photo: Lee Tanner)

After almost 60 years in the business, drummer Jimmy Cobb has earned many sobriquets. Just don’t call him a bandleader. “I’m just the guy that plays the drums with the name out front,” claims the 74-year-old.

It may seem a small semantic issue for one who played with so many jazz legends: Earl Bostic, Dinah Washington, Stan Getz, Dizzy Gillespie, Cannonball and Nat Adderley, Miles Davis, Wynton Kelly, Sarah Vaughan. But Cobb’s reluctance to don the mantle of leadership is due in part to such history. It turns out that his former duties didn’t always end when he packed up the drum kit.

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Originally Published

Ashley Kahn

Ashley Kahn is a Grammy-winning American music historian, journalist, producer, and professor. He teaches at New York University’s Clive Davis Institute for Recorded Music, and has written books on two legendary recordings—Kind of Blue by Miles Davis and A Love Supreme by John Coltrane—as well as one book on a legendary record label: The House That Trane Built: The Story of Impulse Records. He also co-authored the Carlos Santana autobiography The Universal Tone, and edited Rolling Stone: The Seventies, a 70-essay overview of that pivotal decade.