Billy Cobham is considered by most to be one of the best drummers of all time. Generally aclaimed a fusion’s greatest drummer, with an influential style that combines explosive power and exacting precision.
Born in Panama, Cobham’s family moved to New York City during his early childhood. A drummer from his youth, Cobham attended New York’s High School of Music and Art, graduating in 1962.
He played in a U.S. Army Band from 1965 to 1968. Following his discharge, Cobham joined the group of pianist Horace Silver for about a year, also playing or recording with saxophonist Stanley Turrentine, organist Shirley Scott, and guitarist George Benson.
Cobham branched out to jazz fusion, which blended elements of jazz, rock and roll and funk, playing with the Brecker Brothers and guitarist John Abercrombie before recording and touring extensively with trumpeter Miles Davis. Cobham’s work with Davis appears on Live-Evil and A Tribute to Jack Johnson, among other recordings. Cobham is also one of the first drummers to play open handed lead: a drummer that can lead (or ride) with either hand and begin or end a beat or fill with either hand (most drummers lead with 1 hand). He was also one of the first drummers to play with 3 or more bass drums and multiple hi-hats.
In 1980 he worked with Jack Bruce, in a band called Jack Bruce & Friends. In 1994 he joined an all-star cast at the Greek Theatre (in LA) and the results appeared on Stanley Clarke, Larry Carlton, Billy Cobham, Najee and Deron Johnson LIVE AT THE GREEK. The concert was predominantly Clarke’s music but all the musicians contributed material.
A number of solo albums followed (as of July 2005, Cobham has released over 30 recordings under his own name), and continues to record, perform and teach.
In 2006, Cobham released Drum n voice 2. This was a return to the 1970s jazz-funk sound, with guests such as: Jan Hammer, Buddy Miles, John Patitucci, Jeff Berlin, Dominic Miller, Mike Lindup, Airto Moreira, Frank Gambale, Brian Auger, Guy Barker and the band Novecento. The CD was produced and arranged by Pino and Lino Nicolosi for Nicolosi productions.