LIVE: Billy Cobham’s Crosswinds Project featuring Randy Brecker @ The Swyer Theatre, The Egg 10/23/2019

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Billy Cobham is from Panama.

Billy Cobham wears a bandana.

They say this cat Cobham is a bad mutha…(shut your mouth!)

But I’m talking about Billy. Drummers keep time. Billy Cobham doesn’t just keep time, he folds it up and puts it in his pocket.

And that’s where it remains for the duration of his hour and a half set at The Egg last Wednesday.In the pocket. At times, even time itself seems to stand still. As the band frenetically play, Cobham is serene and surfs the waves of music with ease. Do they even surf in Panama? Geography was never my strong point. I know they have a canal, but no waves right?

The band has a unique (at least to me) frontline brass section of trumpet and bassoon. Featured player and a jazz legend in his own right, Randy Brecker handles the trumpet duties, whilst the bassoonist is the remarkable Paul Hanson. Hanson coaxes a weird and wonderful array of sounds from his instrument aided by a bank of pedals, mimicking synthesizer, synthaxe & saxophone to name a few. The rhythm section of Oz Ezzeldin (keys), Fareed Haque (guitar) and Tim Landers (bass) are solid and unobtrusive; they handle Cobham’s charts adeptly, the music veering precipitously from loose limbed funk to hard bop.

Brecker had expressed reservations about taking part in this tour noting how difficult the music was. Difficult to play yes, but certainly not to listen to. And Cobham is the undoubted star of the show, leading from the back. If jazz is at it’s best a conversation, then Cobham is a well practiced after dinner speaker. His snare is a crisp as a morning snowfall, his tom toms cascade like rolling thunder, his double bass drums a palpitating and incessant time lord’s heartbeat.

Saying that Billy Cobham is a drummer is a bit like saying Shakespeare is a writer, or Aretha Franklin is a singer. Words cannot really convey the mastery he has over the World’s oldest instrument.

The drum is life, and Cobham lives and breathes it with every sinew of his being.

It was heartening to see a packed Swyer Theatre present to appreciate the genius & humility of this 75 year old icon. Go and see him while there is still time. After all, it’s really about time.

Set list :Crosswind.The pleasant pheasantSavannah the sereneKeyboard solo / IntroductionSpanish MossTime lapsed photos Guitar solo / IntroductionUnder the Baobab TreeConundrum / Drum soloRed Baron

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