Cobb & Carvin: Two Master Drummers

Jim Santella By

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The jazz drummer is never just a timekeeper. He or she works with the bassist to keep the music driving, but works hard to color every song with various textures that portray appropriate moods. The drummer will solo, and if inclined, may wish to show off a little. A veteran will adapt distinctive techniques to his performance that allows us to recognize him clearly from a distance.

When the drummer is also a leader, everybody benefits from the designs that he employs, and from the strong foundation that he provides. It's usually democratic. Everybody does his share, and everyone enjoys a certain amount of freedom. This works out especially well when the drummer shares his experience with his band members as a teacher.

Jimmy Cobb
Marsalis Music Honors Jimmy Cobb
Marsalis Music

Jimmy Cobb runs a democratic ship where everybody solos and everybody works together cohesively. His original compositions come from the straight-ahead realm, and he prefers a conservative approach. Andrew Speight recalls the swing, spirit, and superb tone quality of Cannonball Adderley. Ellis Marsalis provides a lyrical interpretation for Cobb's originals, as well as for the familiar pieces chosen for this performance. Bassist Orlando Le Fleming adds an iron-clad foundation to each interpretation with spot-on pitch, a robust tone quality, and masterful rhythmic pride.

Every piece stands out on this highly recommended album. "Can You Read My Mind receives a lovely interpretation filled with lyricism and bounded by a propulsive rhythm. "Johnny One Note drives up-tempo with a characteristic swing, leaving plenty of room for Cobb's extended drum solo. And he does catch fire. "Eleanor simmers gently with a reflective ballad aura that places Speight's alto on a pedestal. It's lovely.

Cobb's "Tune 341 and "Composition 101 drive within a characteristic straight-ahead framework where walking bass and ride cymbal come into the picture for traditional color. Marsalis and Speight interpret both with plenty of soul. The pianist's "Tell Me also finds the quartet driving with straight-ahead passion, as the four artists pick up the pace and run with a down-home, friendly quality. The session proves memorable, and will undoubtedly turn out to be one of the year's best jazz albums.

Michael Carvin
Marsalis Music Honors Michael Carvin
Marsalis Music

The quartet that drummer Michael Carvin has put together for this date swings with a straight-ahead ambience that honors tradition. The leader prefers to remain in the background for the most part, dishing out cues for his musical partners, and maintaining a strong rhythmic foundation throughout the session.

Over 60, Carvin has served as coach and teacher to many. His experience enables him to pick up on the little things that matter when he's working with others. A teacher with big ears and an open mind will lead you to better habits ten times out of ten. He established New York's Michael Carvin School of Drumming in 1970, and is now able to look back with pride at the many achievements that his students have garnered.

Carvin's extended drum solo on "In Walked Bud reveals the dedication that he holds for rudimental accuracy and crisp articulation in all that a percussionist attempts. His crisp rolls and accented beats provide a thrill that's both traditional and in the pocket. Even when working alone on this solo section, the veteran prefers to keep things subdued yet highly complex on the inside.

His crisp interpretation of "Night in Tunisia sizzles with excitement as he drives piano, bass and tenor on a rollicking excursion. Slow, emotional ballads and fast romps give the session variety. Branford Marsalis joins the quartet on "Prisoner of Love / Body and Soul for an interpretation that packs a powerful wallop. Emotions are bared as the two tenors trade ideas and converse musically alongside the rhythmic strides that Carvin and the others provide. Carvin's session is a wholesome one, steeped in the straight-ahead jazz tradition, geared for quality, and filled with an honest love for the feeling that comes to you through the music.

Marsalis Music Honors Jimmy Cobb

Personnel: Jimmy Cobb: drums; Orlando Le Fleming: bass; Ellis Marsalis: piano; Andrew Speight: alto saxophone, soprano saxophone on "Real Time.

Tracks: Mr. Lucky; W.K.; Eleanor (Sister Cobb); Composition 101; Can You Read My Mind; There Is Something About You (I Don't Know); Johnny One Note; Real Time; Tell Me; Tune 341.

Marsalis Music Honors Michael Carvin

Personnel: Michael Carvin: drums; Dezron Douglas: bass; Carlton Holmes: piano; Marcus Strickland: tenor saxophone; Branford Marsalis: tenor saxophone on "Prisoner of Love / Body and Soul medley.

Tracks: I'll Remember April; The Lamp is Low; Prisoner of Love / Body and Soul; In Walked Bud; Forest Flower; A Night in Tunisia; You Go to My Head; Hello, Young Lovers.

Visit Jimmy Cobb and Michael Carvin on the web.


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