Thursday, February 27, 2014

Billy Cobham - The Art of Three

These musicians are legends, needing no introduction. They have have played with every key figure in the encyclopaedia of modern jazz. All three are also band leaders in their own right with recording experience that spans over 50 years. Billy Cobham, as leader of the band, is most famous for his fusion albums in the 70s which have been heavily sampled by a whole new generation of artists. 'Spectrum', for example, was the basis of 'Safe From Harm' by Massive Attack. This album is a radical departure from the rest of Bill's recorded work as it is the first time he has recorded an album of straight-ahead jazz standards. The album has been anticipated for a long time by his many fans who cover genres as diverse as jazz, hip-hop & rock. It must be stressed that this album is very much a jazz CD and not a dance floor record. It is however, a superb album. - Product info (blowithard.com)

Billy Cobham formed the Art of Three with fellow seasoned artists Kenny Barron and Ron Carter, who had known each other for several decades prior to this 2001 European tour, but had rarely played as a unit. This CD includes excerpts of two concerts, and while the drummer is listed as the leader, this is essentially a meeting of three all-stars with no one player dominating the spotlight. Beginning with a spry "Stella by Starlight," featuring Barron's playful piano, Carter's inventive accompaniment, and Cobham starting on brushes and switching to sticks, the trio sizzles from the very start. Carter's "New Waltz" is a tender tune, suggesting a parent teaching a young child a few basic dance steps in the intimacy of home. Barron's lively "And Then Again" blends a delicious bop line in the style of Bud Powell, with Carter and Cobham fueling his flight, while they also offer a rollicking treatment of Powell's "Bouncing with Bud." The setting of Thelonious Monk's "'Round Midnight" focuses more on the lyricism of the piece than an overly brooding air, as it is often played. It's hard not to think of Dave Brubeck, Miles Davis, or Bill Evans when a jazz group plays "Someday My Prince Will Come," but this trio adds a catchy introduction that combines beauty with a bit of tension before seguing into the familiar waltz tempo of this Disney-associated theme. The group followed up this excellent CD with two more from a tour of Japan in 2003; the obvious chemistry between them merits future reunions as well. - by Ken Dryden, AMG

Artist: Billy Cobham
Album: The Art of Three
Year: 2001
Label: In & Out
Runtime: 73:50

Tracks:
1. Stella By Starlight (Ned Washington/Victor Young) 10:43
2. Autumn Leaves (Joseph Kosma/Johnny Mercer/Jacques Prévert) 10:00
3. New Waltz (Ron Carter) 6:55
4. Bouncing With Bud (Bud Powell) 7:02
5. 'Round Midnight (Bernie Hanighen/Thelonious Monk/Cootie Williams) 7:56
6. And Then Again (Kenny Barron) 11:25
7. I Thought About You (Johnny Mercer/James Van Heusen) 10:26
8.  Someday My Prince Will Come (Larry Morey/Frank Churchill) 9:19

Personnel:
Billy Cobham (Drums)
Ron Carter (Double Bass)
Kenny Barron (Piano)

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