WBGO Radar

Jimmy Cobb: The Original Mob

cover of Jimmy Cobb's CD The Original Mob

Now in his seventh decade in music, drummer and elder statesman Jimmy Cobb shows no signs of slowing down.

The Original Mob, Cobb's new Smoke Sessions release which comes out June 3, has him swinging just as he did with Earl Bostic, Clark Terry, Billie Holiday, Dinah Washington, Cannonball Adderley and Miles.

The disc is a testament with 10 "books," all of which testify that this master has all the muster to create a swinging, engaging jazz record.

With musical disciples and former students Peter Bernstein on guitar, John Webber on bass and Brad Mehldau at the piano, Cobb's Mob takes on all comers.

There's the haunting opener, "Old Devil Moon," initiated by Mehldau, bass and drums, with Bernstein's Grant Greenish groove on the melody.

Other standards uniquely approached include "Sunday In New York," "Stranger In Paradise" and the Kern/Hammerstein classic "Nobody Else But Me."

This is the first "studio" Smoke session, where the club was used as a studio without a live audience, which prompts the leader to remember early recordings with Rudy Van Gelder in his parents’ living room.

As the trio sets the groove on "Amsterdam After Dark," Bernstein's guitar and Mehldau's piano explore this gem with the same fire saxophonist George Coleman brought on his original.


Pianist Mehldau contributes his "Unrequited" here, with Cobb setting up the samba feel for the piano, bass and drums to take us to a place we all wish we had tickets to.

Guitarist Bernstein's "Minor Blues" has a nice time signature for the foursome to play through in a relaxed, knowing fashion apparent throughout the record.

The leader contributes two of his own:"Composition 101," where piano and guitar state the melody in unison before finding there own space straight ahead, driven by Cobb's locked in ride cymbal and deep seated accents, and "Remembering You," a gorgeous ballad, showing Cobb's gentler side, with a thorough melody exploration from Mehldau and Bernstein.

This one's on anybody's late night playlist.

"Lickety Split," a composition by bassist Webber, fires up the quartet as they gallop together toward a fine finish.

Jimmy Cobb is in demand as a teacher all over the world. One listen to "The Original Mob" speaks volumes as to why - former students who are obviously proud to come around to show the teacher they were listening back then, and are listening now. The result deserves more than one listen by you.

    - Gary Walker, WBGO music director




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