The Desert Leaf January 2015 : Page 44

Andrea Canter ‘Jazz Master’ to Play at Festival by Yvonne Ervin Jimmy Cobb performed as part of the Four Generations of Miles touring ensemble that played at the Dakota Jazz Club in Minneapolis in 2012. The other musicians included Mike Stern, Sonny Fortune and Buster Williams. While Jimmy “Jazz Master” is the best way to describe Jimmy Cobb and, in 2009, the National Endowment for the Arts agreed and insists that officially bestowed that honor on the drummer. is the only remaining musician who played on Kind of Blue , his golfing the Cobb most popular jazz album of all time. The member of the band to days are pass away most recently was the legendary leader of that session, trumpeter Miles Davis, who died 24 years ago. over, he’s Cobb is also the only living musi-Band, at the festival’s opening concert. of the seminal John Coltrane al-“I played with Joey and guitar-still swinging. cian bum, Giant Steps , which was recorded ist Larry Coryell in Phoenix a couple the same year as Kind of Blue . The year 1959 was auspicious and also produced three other pivotal jazz releases: Dave Brubeck’s Time Out , Charles Mingus’ Mingus Ah Um and Ornette Coleman’s The Shape of Jazz to Come . Out of the 20 musicians on these albums, Cobb is one of only four surviving members. Cobb will be the guest of honor in Tucson this month as part of the inau-gural HSL Properties Tucson Jazz Fes-tival. He will be “sitting in” with jazz organist and Phoenician Joey DeFran-cesco, as well as with the award-win-ning Tucson Jazz Institute Ellington 44 DesertLeaf l January 2015 He’ll also be sitting in with an old high-school pal of his wife, Elena: jeweler Abbot Taylor, whose band, Dry Heat, will be playing at the free day-long party of all kinds of music that the festival is throwing for the city, on Martin Luther King Day, Jan. 19, downtown. Jimmy and Elena are looking for-ward to spending two warm and sunny weeks at the festival, ensconced at the Arizona Inn with all the other big-Dinah Washington, the legendary jazz and blues singer, worked and lived with Jimmy Cobb in the early 1950s. Courtesy: Tucson Jazz Festival of years ago and it was a blast,” Cobb said. “I’ve also heard great things about these high-school kids from Tucson who won the Jazz at Lincoln Center Essentially Ellington competition two years in a row. I’ve heard a lot of great high-school jazz bands and that’s really hard to do!”

'Jazz Master' To Play At Festival

Yvonne Ervin

While Jimmy insists that his golfing days are over, he's still swinging.

"Jazz Master" is the best way to describe Jimmy Cobb and, in 2009, the National Endowment for the Arts agreed and officially bestowed that honor on the drummer.

Cobb is the only remaining musician who played on Kind of Blue, the most popular jazz album of all time. The member of the band to pass away most recently was the legendary leader of that session, trumpeter Miles Davis, who died 24 years ago.

Cobb is also the only living musician of the seminal John Coltrane album, Giant Steps, which was recorded the same year as Kind of Blue. The year 1959 was auspicious and also produced three other pivotal jazz releases: Dave Brubeck's Time Out, Charles Mingus' Mingus Ah Um and Ornette Coleman's The Shape of Jazz to Come. Out of the 20 musicians on these albums, Cobb is one of only four surviving members.

Cobb will be the guest of honor in Tucson this month as part of the inaugural HSL Properties Tucson Jazz Festival. He will be "sitting in" with jazz organist and Phoenician Joey DeFrancesco, as well as with the award-winning Tucson Jazz Institute Ellington Band, at the festival's opening concert.

"I played with Joey and guitarist Larry Coryell in Phoenix a couple of years ago and it was a blast," Cobb said. "I've also heard great things about these high-school kids from Tucson who won the Jazz at Lincoln Center Essentially Ellington competition two years in a row. I've heard a lot of great high-school jazz bands and that's really hard to do!"

He'll also be sitting in with an old high-school pal of his wife, Elena: jeweler Abbot Taylor, whose band, Dry Heat, will be playing at the free day-long party of all kinds of music that the festival is throwing for the city, on Martin Luther King Day, Jan. 19, downtown.

Jimmy and Elena are looking forward to spending two warm and sunny weeks at the festival, ensconced at the Arizona Inn with all the other big- name headliners like JD Souther, Billy Childs, Robert Glasper and Allan Harris. Who knows? Cobb might also sit in with some other bands like the Tucson Hard Bop Quintet, which is opening for Harris. It wouldn't be surprising to see him sit in with the Latin jazz fusion band, Aguamala, at the Rialto Theatre. He can play in most any style.

"I always wanted to play in a band with bassist Ray Brown but I never got to play with him," Cobb admitted. "But we did play golf together!"

Good genes account for his longevity, Cobb said. "And I didn't do a lot of things that maybe some other people did," he added, alluding to the fact that he and saxophonist Cannonball Adderley were the only players on Kind of Blue who were never hooked on heroin.

In fact, it was Philly Joe Jones' addiction that got Cobb the gig with Miles. "Cannonball was telling me to hang out with the band because Joe wasn't showing up to some of the gigs," Cobb recalled. When Jones didn't make it to play in Boston, Miles called Cobb at the last minute, and Jimmy became a permanent member of the band.

"He knew I was going to be on time and didn't use drugs. On top of that, I could play a little bit," the drummer said, modestly. "I learned how it could be good every night, because you had such great players, and I enjoyed being around them. Like Miles used to say, 'It was the best time I ever had with my clothes on!'"

Cobb recorded Porgy and Bess and Sketches of Spain with Miles before Kind of Blue. At the time, not even Miles himself had any idea that the latter could have the longevity to sell well more than one million copies in just the past 10 years. Its success still confounds Cobb. "It was just another good Miles Davis album to me. What can I tell you? It was about the change in the music from chord changes to the modal thing," he theorized. "It has an appeal to almost everybody, whether or not they like jazz. I can't explain it."

In the 56 years since Kind of Blue, Cobb has played with a long, impressive list of jazz musicians. Cobb, Paul Chambers and Wynton Kelly, the rhythm section heard on "Freddie Freeloader" from that album, backed a variety of people, from Wes Montgomery to Al Cohn and Zoot Sims. Cobb weathered the leanest years in jazz- the 1970s-playing behind the great vocalist Sarah Vaughan.

"It was beautiful," he said of his nine years with the "Divine One." "That band took a path outside of the little jazz clubs. She played in auditoriums and hotel ballrooms and Vegas and those kinds of places. Sometimes we opened for Frank Sinatra."

While Jimmy insists that his golfing days are over, he's still swinging. He'll celebrate his 86th birthday at a festival sponsor reception in his honor before the Jan. 20 concert by pianists Armen Donelian and Angelo Versace, at the Arizona Inn.

Yvonne Ervin is a local freelance writer as well as the producer of the HSL Properties Tucson Jazz Festival. Comments for publication should be addressed to letters@desertleaf.com.

Festival Highlights

The HSL Properties Tucson Jazz Festival will be held at various venues around Tucson from Jan. 16-28.

Jimmy Cobb will appear with the Joey DeFrancesco Quartet and with the Tucson Jazz Institute Ellington Band at the Fox Tucson Theatre to kick off the Festival on Jan. 16.

Cobb also will appear with Dry Heat at the Festival's free day-long Downtown Jazz Fiesta, on MLK Day, Jan. 19, on a stage at the corner of Fifth and Toole avenues, at 4 p.m.

Other highlights of the Festival include:

Burt Bacharach, Jan. 28, at the Fox

A Tribute to Nat King Cole with Allan Harris, Jan. 25, at the Fox

A Big Band Brunch Tribute to Frank Sinatra, with Joe Bourne and Big Band Express, Jan. 25, at the Westin La Paloma

Saluting the Clarinet Kings, with Dave Bennett and the Jeff Haskell Trio, Jan. 21, at Crowder Hall, UA School of Music

JD Souther and Billy Childs, Jan. 24, at the Fox

Visit www.tucsonjazzfestival.org for more information, or call the Fox Tucson Theatre at 347-3040 for tickets.

—Yvonne Ervin

Read the full article at http://trendmag2.trendoffset.com/article/%27Jazz+Master%27+To+Play+At+Festival/1888799/239527/article.html.

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