Interview: Jimmy Cobb (Part 1) - JazzWax

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January 05, 2009


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Michael Steinman

Dear Marc,
Fascinating interview with Cobb -- you get musicians to open their hearts to you, which is no small accomplishment. But I disagree slightly with your opening comment about drummers on records. Before Jimmy was born, jazz drummers were making profound differences on records without calling attention to themselves. Please listen to Jo Jones on any of the Vaguard sessions, Dave Tough on the Bud Freeman Famous Chicagoans, George Wettling on the Condon Commodores, Cliff Leeman with the Lawson-Haggart Jazz Band, Sidney Catlett with the Blue Note Jazzmen . . . or the way he plays on Hampton's HAVEN'T NAMED IT YET. Then, go back to Krupa in 1927 with McKenzie and Condon, Baby Dodds with Jelly Roll Morton. In fact, here's an imaginary homework assignment: take any record you know well with any of these drummers and listen to it again -- but following the drum part! You'll be astounded by all the music you've been taking for granted. I learned about this from the drummer Michael Burgevin, who taught me how to listen more -- just passing it along.
Your didactic blogging buddy - - -


What a nice interview. Cobb is one of my favorite drummers and is certainly not recognized enough. He took part in some of jazz finest recordings.
Yoh have me waiting for the second part.

Red Colm O'Sullivan

Now I'm really looking forward to what he has to say about Sarah Vaughan (I'm hoping for excruciating detail!).
One of my top all-time favourite drummers...

Panic Away

Thanks alot for the information. Really appreciate it. I've Subscribed to your RSS feed for Further updated. Jimmy is constantly being approached to teach what he knows and loves to aspiring jazz musicians all over the world. Jimmy travels every year for the last 9 years to Stanford University to teach Master Classes for the Universities Jazz Workshop. I love him and get really inspired with him.

Best Regards,
Debra@Panic Away

cutest girl in the world

Congratulations on getting to talk to such a legend. Me and my girlfriends got a kick out of reading this interview.



Well, my guitar teacher always extols on Jimmy Cobb on his commitment on music. When i found out about this interview, i was literally blown away. Thanks for such wonderful post!


i liked this section "No matter the recording, Jimmy's drumming always expresses a restrained tension that never fails to move the needle on the listener's anxiety level. Jimmy's ability to accompany artists by building a smoldering intensity with brushes and sticks—without stealing their thunder—is one of the many reasons why he has always been in demand as a session player with the greatest names in jazz." he has the gift.

alliance level guide

Good interview, this man is a legend in the Jazz world. Some of my friends will be interested in this too.


Jimmy Cobb is the best. Once I heard him I never thought of drumming in quite the same way. I realized drumming is MUSIC, not just the beat.


That man is a legend for sure.I love him so much.Thanx for the share.

Daisy Lowe

A wonderful bit of music history! Too many black entertainers have been lost along the way.

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  • Marc Myers writes regularly for The Wall Street Journal and is author of "Anatomy of 55 More Songs," "Anatomy of a Song," "Rock Concert: An Oral History" and "Why Jazz Happened." Founded in 2007, JazzWax has won three Jazz Journalists Association awards.
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