Category: Cobham Billy

Billy Cobham: Self- Expression

Today, a nice long interview with drummer Billy Cobham from the UK National Jazz Archive. The Panamanian American jazz drummer, composer and bandleader talks to Les Tomkins in 1974 about New York, being a bandleader, jazz as ‘dance music’, live performance, and a lot more. From the interview:

Do you regard it as important to make the amount of preparations that you do for your stage act?

Sure, it’s extremely important, and we’re nowhere near where I’d like us to be. We need strong sound equipment, and people that are competent to handle it, plus good lighting people that are competent to work in collaboration with the band and the sound. It’s a matter of time; if we can last out through the natural elements that are against us, it’ll work out.

Normally, though, do you not prepare before the show starts? Only at the Rainbow more than an hour elapsed between the two parts of the programme, before you were ready to come on and play.

Now, that’s a problem that’s a technical one. It’s also a problem of poor planning on the part of promoters who put on shows. If a promoter knows that he doesn’t have a large enough stage to handle both bands, or enough people to take care of the equipment, the worst thing he can do is to accept an opening act that is as big as his star attraction, because it means that the show is not gonna move as smoothly as it could. Therefore, with that, you have a lot of problems.

Click here to read Billy Cobham: Self- Expression

—Peter Blasevick

Interview with Billy Cobham from Mike Dolbear

More from some of the great Jazz drummers this week. Check out this cool interview with trailblazing drummer and percussionist Billy Cobham from Here Billy talks about Louis Bellson:

Q: I believe that the late great Louis Bellson was one of your tutors. What impact did he have on you as a drummer in terms of technique, attitude, expression and ideas?

A: It’s sad losing him but it was inevitable but what Louis Bellson gave me was latitude. He opened my eyes to many percussion possibilities like multiple bass drum presentation with two bass drums or more. I remember in 1978, he said to me “Well, you know what you got – well, that’s a good thing – now how are you going to use it in other ways?”. He said to come on out back; he had this ranch style home, and he said “Have you ever thought of playing more than two bass drums?” I said “I can’t play one bass drum!”.

Click here to read Interview with Billy Cobham from Mike Dolbear