“Six Days” book review on the UK’s number three-rated jazz blog, bebop spoken here:
This is one of those books that you can’t put down although, initially I thought I’d struggle to get beyond the first page, not being a big fan of fusion and it’s practitioners.
That was then! Now, after devouring every word like someone coming off a hunger strike, I find myself listening to Bitches Brew and, if I had any any Mahavishnu albums I’d be listening to them too! Whilst I’d hardly describe myself as a convert, such is the impact of the writing, both by Gruber and Cobham, that you are drawn into the music without even hearing it!
Set over six nights at Ronnie Scott’s it describes not only Cobham’s playing behind Guy Barker’s hand picked British big band (Paul Booth is in the line-up) but also includes the before and after (fly on the wall) conversations with a lot of memories along the way.
Intriguing is the meticulous attention Cobham pays to his kit. Three missing floor tom-tom legs almost became a world (jazz) crisis. Every drummer in the universe should study Cobham’s tuning of his drums. He pitches them as carefully as any horn or string player so that he is in accord with what is going on around him.
But, apart from the description of the gig which sold-out 6 nights running, there are also his memories of the many previous highlights in his illustrious career. There was his time in the army where, by a fortuitous posting, he was able to spend time at home and do some moonlighting jazz club gigs in the evening. His big time breakthrough with Horace Silver which brought him fame if not fortune leading to the ensuing super stardom with Miles, the Breckers, the Mahavishnu Orchestra and his present status where he has annually pulled full houses at Ronnie’s for 11 consecutive years.
Needless to say, author Gruber extracts opinions from him on the various musicians he has worked with. He speaks frankly and honestly. His opinions, although never malicious, come across as genuine and observant.
To sum up, it’s one helluva book. I didn’t need to be at Ronnie’s for those 6 nights – I’ve just been there! Every unheard note and drum beat is ingrained inside me.