September 27, 2018 Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
Great stories are only great when told by great story tellers and Gruber is top draw, because, this is a great story! The author manages to capture the very essence of the brilliant Mr. Cobham, a musician who has been thrilling us with his musical artistry, for the past 50 years and who mischievously continues to confuse and evade the jazz police’s facile labels. An underrated composer with a prodigious body of work, Billy Cobham is deadly serious about the art of playing drums and is a man who doesn’t suffer fools easily.
There are occasional displays of mild irritation at Gruber’s line of questioning, but Gruber, no acolyte, persists and is rewarded with Cobham’s no holds barred responses. I’m guessing this is because there is trust between author and subject. Vignettes like declining Stan Getz’ widow’s request to play Israel or his take on Keith Emerson of ELP and of course, stories of Miles and of him declining Miles’ offer to join the band and then there is the Jan Hammer interview, just some of the gems you will find in this book.
Revelations of his troubled relationship with John McLaughlin are simply riveting and this chapter alone is worth the price of the book. Occasionally funny, but mostly a raw and painful account of their relationship when both were members of the highly successful Mahavishnu Orchestra in the 1970s.
From his early years as the son of immigrant parents from Panama to his painful relationship growing up with his musician father, to his difficult and ultimately strained relationship with John McLaughlin, Cobham holds nothing back. Refreshingly, when asked awkward questions, Cobham, seems to have no filter, but a reckless respect for the truth.
If you really want to know what makes Billy Cobham tick, then buy this book. It is a moving and intimate account of a complex, sensitive and passionate musical giant. To quote Frank Black: “There are secrets being told here. If you listen closely you can spot them”.
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