Billy Cobham : Drum ‘n’ Voice Vol. 2

This powerhouse all-star project, produced by the Italian family band Novecento, reunites the iconic fusion drummer with several of his fuzoid colleagues, including former Mahavishnu Orchestra bandmate Jan Hammer, keyboardist Brian Auger, guitarist Frank Gambale (who toured with Cobham in 2003 as part of his 30th anniversary Spectrum Band) and percussionist Airto (who played alongside Cobham on 1969’s Bitches Brew sessions). Fellow drummer Buddy Miles turns up in a vocal role, providing a nasty, Johnny Guitar Watson-esque reading on the aptly named “Real Funk,” which also contains a typically mind-boggling Gambale guitar solo chockful of his patented sweep picking licks. Auger turns in a blazing synth solo on the opener, “Waveform,” dropping in a quote from “Freedom Jazz Dance” along the way and bassist John Patitucci contributes a remarkably fluid six-string electric bass solo on the 7/4 vehicle “Take Seven.”

On the explosive fusion number “Running,” Cobham interacts with the members of Novecento, including siblings Pino Nicolosi on keyboards, speed merchant brother Lino on wailing, Di Meola-styled electric guitar and sister Rossana on ultra-grooving, Jaco-esque electric bass. Tons of notey fireworks ensue, including some exhilarating exchanges of eights between brothers Pino and Lino in classic ’70s fusion fashion. Elsewhere on this players’ outing, Cobham engages in free-spirited, highly interactive duets with Airto on “Ozone (Part 1)” and on the Brazilian samba “Amazon,” then goes toe-to-toe with keyboardist Hammer and electric bass virtuoso Jeff Berlin on the Weather Report-ish “Ozone (Part 2).” Throughout it all, Cobham sounds as crisp, slamming and spectacular as he did some 30-plus years ago.