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Jimmy Cobb: This I Dig of You (Smoke Sessions)

A review of the 90-year-old drummer's album

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Jimmy Cobb, This I Dig of You
The cover of This I Dig of You by Jimmy Cobb

Is there a ride cymbal more integral to solid groove-making on more jazz recordings and performances than the one(s) played by drummer Jimmy Cobb, the last surviving musician from the sessions for Miles’ Kind of Blue? Cobb, also heard with the likes of Dizzy Gillespie, Dinah Washington, Sarah Vaughan, John Coltrane, and Cannonball Adderley over the decades, creates a special kind of graceful, creative, forward-moving swing when he locks in with a bassist and rhythm section (as I discovered firsthand, playing with the master trappist at a 2000 memorial concert for Nat Adderley in Florida).

At 90, Cobb still has it, as he handily demonstrates on This I Dig of You, leading and driving a quartet on an uncluttered, frills-free program dominated by standards, some of which he’s been playing for decades. For these warmly recorded, intimate-sounding recordings, he’s joined by several musicians with whom he’s previously collaborated: pianist Harold Mabern and two former students of Cobb’s at the New School in New York, bassist John Webber and guitarist Peter Bernstein.

As a soloist, Cobb shines most when he’s most in the moment, directly responding to rhythmic and harmonic ideas tossed up by bandmates, as during the trading-bars sections on the title track, a fast-moving hard bop tune by Hank Mobley, and “Yesterdays,” a Cobb favorite. His deft touch as a ballad player enlivens “My Old Flame,” and he reinvigorates two tunes for which he drummed on the original recordings: Wes Montgomery’s bluesy “Full House,” one of several showcases for Bernstein’s agile, sometimes provocative soloing, and the Coltrane-associated “I’ll Wait and Pray.”

Bernstein’s laidback “Blood Wolf Moon Blues,” which features a particularly buoyant improvisation by Webber, is the sole new original on the album, which also includes Mabern’s soul-jazz gem “Edward Lee,” in honor of Lee Morgan. Of This we dig.


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Philip Booth

Philip Booth is a longtime arts journalist and bass player based in Florida. Formerly the pop music critic for the Tampa Tribune, he has contributed to many national publications, recently including the Washington PostJazziz, and Relix. His byline also has appeared in DownBeat, Bass Player, Billboard, Variety, Spin, Rolling Stone, and several academic journals. Sharkskin, the second album from his long-running band, Acme Jazz Garage, has aired on radio stations across the U.S.