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Thread: Cobham disses Tony in the new Jazz Times

  1. #1
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    Cobham disses Tony in the new Jazz Times

    Has anyone read the “Before and After” In the latest Jazz Times? Billy Cobham disses Cindy Blackman, Gretsch drums and believe it or not Tony Williams. I found Cobham’s comments on Tony Williams not only troubling but also in bad taste. I wonder if he made his statements in a self conscious manner or with the glib disrespect that I felt while reading the article. It’s one thing to say you don’t respect someone’s playing, but to say Tony was a “spoiled brat” that’s now “dead” (as if that makes him somehow irrelevant) sounds like it’s coming from someone that’s jealous of a musician that’s commanded more respect among his peers than himself. It’s one thing to dis Cindy Blackman for overplaying (even though Cobham is more guilty of overplaying and playing too damn loud than just about any drummer out there) but to disrespect a drummer who’s recognized not only as one of the architects of modern drumming but also as a consummate musician and composer is unacceptable, especially one who passed on way too soon. I mean Tony Williams has influenced not only legions of drummers but many other instrumentalists and listeners as well. Along with Miles, Wayne, Ron and Herbie they changed the sound of small group jazz. Miles acknowledged Tony as the the instigator, “he was the creative fire, the spark”. I know Cobham and Tony were more or less contemporary’s but it’s almost as if Wynton said Pops was some dead guy that played too loud and didn’t listen…I can’t get with that. Check out the article here http://www.jazztimes.com/columns_and...6&action=after

  2. #2
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    Billy's not the first one to say that the worst thing to happen to jazz drumming was Tony. Same thing a lot of cats say about Scotty on bass.
    I think you're reading from a perspective of somebody who has a lot of love for Tony, which is cool. But the thing I got from it was that (speaking specifically about Cindy) Cobham thought she was picking up the worst aspects of Tony's playing - volume ( the later records and some of the VSOP stuff he coulda been in a separate room from the rest of the cats) and lack of communication/interactivity - and was being more repertory (basically just playing Tony's shit) than innovative (taking Tony's shit and building on it). Not that I agree or disagree with his assessment, I haven't heard this record.

    But what are you saying - that you don't agree with his assessment or he's not allowed to have an opinion if it disagrees with yours?

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    Cobham's certainly entitled to his opinion and I welcome formats like "Before and After" where artisits can speak their mind. It was just his disrespectful tone about Tony that I didn't dig. I don't think it's necessary to call any of your peers a "spoiled brat" and the comment about him being "dead" (insinuating we've got to move on and forget about Tony) I found particularly tasteless. Yeah, Tony did play loud, especially from the mid '70's on but don't you find that ironic coming from Cobham?

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    Registered User justHerb's Avatar
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    Sounds like maybe there was more going on between Billy and Tony...

  5. #5
    Compose /Arranger / Jazz Prod. Phil Kelly's Avatar
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    Cobham is entitled to his opinion, but then so am I.

    Billy Cobham is an egotistical, overplaying ,one trick
    pony type of drummer who should keep his mouth shut.

    People in glass houses etc .....
    Swing ..or I'll kill you ( Bill Potts )
    RIP

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    To the original poster: You ripped BC's words right out of the context, making them sound worse than they actually are. Cobham just presents some constructive critics, I'm glad to see a blindfold test that's not just another mindless praise. Personally I agree with most of the things BC says here. Another thing completely is that all the points presented could be equally applied to mr. BC himself. I'll take Elvin, DeJohnette or Al Foster over messieurs Williams and Cobham anyday.

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    Hello,

    I agree with Sambrasa that your initial post adds far too much of an addled tenor to Cobham's words. I actually think what he had to say is not just correct, but expressed very naturally.

    Cobham has never been a drummer that I can spend much time with, for the very reasons that he outlines himself:

    The one thing I couldn’t get under my belt was why I had to play so loud all the time and overshadow everybody to get my point across.
    He is indicating that this was part of his learning experience in his earlier days, and I would suggest that he has still not learned this lesson throughly, however what he said about Williams and Blackman is not disrespectful, and is actually quite illuminating.

    Malraux

  8. #8
    Composer/Drummer Jay Norem's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Phil Kelly View Post
    Billy Cobham is an egotistical, overplaying ,one trick pony type of drummer who should keep his mouth shut.
    I tend to agree. I always thought of Cobham as a mediocre and somewhat vulgar-if-technically-flashy drummer. Which is okay, mediocre drumming is okay, it's just that when people start going on about how great he is I smell a rat.

  9. #9
    Hater of Jazz Snobbery Pie-eyed blue's Avatar
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    Well, I don't have a long enough stick to touch the copy of this magazine but. . . Tony Williams and Kenny Clarke are my men, two very different drummers who just inspire my hands, feet and my MIND.

    Billy. . .well more than "not so much."

    But it's a wide wide world.

  10. #10
    SF Jazz
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    What's really surprising to me is to hear that jazz has a marketing plan...that's news to me! I would look at it like Miles was always looking to push the envelope and here's a young drummer with a bunch of new ideas...let's give him a shot. To me, that makes more sense than some ploy to sell more records.

    In terms of Tony's playing style, personally I like aggressive drumming. I mean what about Art Blakey? I don't know if anyone plays "louder" but good luck dissing him. You won't get many people to agree with you calling him names. And then there's Elvin Jones who was another "loud" drummer. So his picking out of Tony does seem a little bit like a personal thing. Mahavishnu was around just after Lifetime so perhaps he felt like he was following in Tony's footsteps as John McLaughlin's drummer and he's the one with the chip on his shoulder.

    And then there's his point. If it's that a generation of drummers took the wrong idea from Tony and thought they had to play loud to make an impact on the music, I just don't see it. I have been to many shows in the last few years and seen a who's who of drummers from Eric Harland to Jeff Watts to Brian Blade etc. (and actually Cobham himself). If anything, I think they all play with empathy and know when to be loud and when to be soft.

    So of course he's entitled to his opinion, but I'd have to disagree with most of what he said. And the "Tony is dead so let's move on" thing seemed particularily ignorant considering one of the first things that comes to mind when someone says jazz is a music with a rich history and sense of tradition. There's nothing out there right now that doesn't have some part of it's foundation rooted in artists like Williams.

  11. #11
    fed up jonesy's Avatar
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    As far as I'm concerned, however many descriptives one can come up with for Cobham, "mediocre" and "one trick pony" have to be at the very bottom of the list. I think his over-the-top Mahavishnu days sealed an impression of him for many but Billy's a lot deeper than that.

    link - Cobham/ Horace Silver

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    I've been a Cobham fan since the early '70's. Truthfully, I started seriously listening to Jazz around the time that CTI's 'California Concert' was released. I think his discography from this period of time shows an amazing amount of variety. That said, he seems to have exiled himself to limbo for the last couple of decades and I always felt it was due to his ego. This 'before and after' article reinforces what I've felt. Read the whole thing, his comments about George Duke are absolutely bitchy, the dude was his partner for awhile!! Kinda makes me wonder about his feud with McLaughlin....MEEEEOOOOWWWW!!!!

  13. #13
    Compose /Arranger / Jazz Prod. Phil Kelly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jonesy View Post
    As far as I'm concerned, however many descriptives one can come up with for Cobham, "mediocre" and "one trick pony" have to be at the very bottom of the list. I think his over-the-top Mahavishnu days sealed an impression of him for many but Billy's a lot deeper than that.

    link - Cobham/ Horace Silver
    Jonesy:

    Those comments were MY personal opinions which I'm entitled to -as are you entitled to yours.

    As you say, he may or may not be "deeper than that", but his latest series of serial disses of his peers seem to reveal a jealous bitter streak in his psyche which are a separate issue from his playing abilities.

    Even Buddy Rich was generally complimentary of other drummers ( regardless of his well documented merciless trashing of his own bands
    on many occasions )
    Swing ..or I'll kill you ( Bill Potts )
    RIP

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    I think discussing bullshit like this just lends credence to the remarks made originally, and that everyone should let each musician's music speak for itself. There's no reason to get hung up on whatever incendiary remarks Cobham or anyone else makes and have the forum discourse degenerate into 'X's playing is hip as shit and Y's a hack'.

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    Wink

    Shamus,

    I think discussing bullshit like this just lends credence to the remarks made originally.....
    I agree. I think that the discussions about not having discussions are just as interesting.

    Malraux

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