Monday, November 19, 2007
William E. Cobham Jr. is simply one of the best jazz drummers there has ever been. Period. Armed with formidable technical skill, he came to prominence in the early days of fusion as the rhythmic force behind Miles Davis' fusion experiments. (Oddly enough, he also played drums on my ex-stepfather's solo album.) His other notable early 70s posting was in the engine room of fusion supergroup the Mahavishnu Orchestra. "Crosswinds" comes from the next stage of his career, as the powerful and superfast jazz-rock of Mahavishnu gave way to a more human jazz-funk sound. The transformation was taking place through 1973's 'Spectrum' (being particularly evident in sampler's favourite, "Stratus") but the change of guitarist to John Abercrombie ushered in a less frenetic sound.
The Brecker brothers are on particularly good form, especially Michael with his keening soprano. And don't forget George Duke, anchoring the whole thing with a funky riff on a heavily funked-up rhodes. Where the album really stands out, though, is on the slower cuts like "Crosswind." Sampled ad infinitum by hip-hop acts (check Gang Starr's "Here Today, Gone Tomorrow") and paid homage by modern funk acts like the Breakestra, "Crosswind" is a jazz-funk classic.
Gang Starr's "Here Today, Gone Tomorrow":