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Jimmy Cobb: Marsalis Music Honors Jimmy Cobb

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You can count on one hand the total number of albums that the great drummer has made as a leader. Acknowledging that oversight, Branford Marsalis has crafted here a fitting showcase for the man who replaced Philly Joe Jones in the Miles Davis sextet (1958-1963), fueled the historic Kind of Blue sessions with his tasty, unerring sense of swing and went on to enjoy an association with the Wynton Kelly trio (1963-1968) alongside bassist Paul Chambers.

At age 77, Cobb is still playing wonderfully well, whether it’s creating a delicate “Flamenco Sketches”-like ambiance with his masterful brushstroke on the gorgeous ballad “Eleanor” (dedicated to his late sister), swinging joyously on Rodgers and Hart’s “Johnny One Note” or engaging in spirited exchanges with the band on his own buoyant “Composition 101.” On a jaunty Wynton Kelly tribute, “W.K.,” Cobb takes his time building an extended solo, working like an orator pacing himself before reaching a speech’s dramatic conclusion. The quintessentially supportive drummer exhibits more soloistic flair on his funky Horace Silver-ish closer, “Tune 341.”

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