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Q & A with Jimmy Cobb

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WBGO's afternoon Jazz host Michael Bourne sat down with jazz drummer Jimmy Cobb in March of 2005.

Michael Bourne: How long have you been doing Jimmy Cobb's Mob?

Jimmy Cobb: Well, it started out five, six, maybe more than that, years ago when I was doing an occasional teaching thing down at the New School of Music. I ran into all these guys—the members of the band. Peter Bernstein (guitarist) was going there at the time. And Brad Mehldau (piano). Those kind of guys were coming through the school. I used to have this rhythm class. I would have all kind of instruments come in. We would pick out these bebop tunes and everybody would play and I would critique their playing. They would accept that from me. Peter happened to mention, "If we get a gig or something, would you do it with us? I said sure. So the real Cobb's Mob to begin with was Brad Mehldau, Peter Bernstein, John Webber (bass) and myself.



MB: Now Richard Wyands on piano and Eric Alexander also (tenor sax).

JC: Eric was added later for that last gig.

MB: What have you tried to teach when you teach young drummers? What's the most important thing?

JC: Basically, I try to teach first of all, to keep time, if possible. That's what I strive to get in their heads. Everything else comes off of that.

MB: You played with Clark Terry, I assume, from the beginning.

JC: Yeah. I made a record a long time ago, in the 50s, with Clark Terry and Dinah Washington. It was called, "For Those In Love. In fact one of the first arrangements Quincy Jones made was for Dinah.

MB: I Could Write a Book?

JC: Yeah. So over the years, we've been bumpin' together. He's a good friend of mine. I love Clark.

MB: You played on the first jazz concert I ever attended. In St. Louis, mid-60s. You'd just left Miles. You, Paul Chambers and Wynton Kelly. You came out and played first as a trio. And then you were joined by Gerry Mulligan and Coleman Hawkins.

JC: It almost sounds like the band we had in Japan, the first time Miles went to Japan, it was right after I got out of the band. He had Herbie (Hancock) and Sam Rivers and Ron (Carter) and Tony (Williams). The band we had was J.J. Johnson, Clark Terry, Sonny Stitt and our rhythm section. That was the our band.

MB: The other trio on the gig was Vince Guaraldi, who had just recorded Cast Your Fate to the Wind. They were joined by Al Cohn, Zoot Sims and Sonny Stitt. Also, Dakota Staton and Jimmy Smith were on the gig. It was a great night and totally inspiring. You've been doing that for a long time.

JC: I went on the road when I was 21 years old in 1950, so that kind of lets you know where I am right now.

Visit Jimmy Cobb on the web.

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