Billy Cobham - drums, percussion; Mark Soskin - keyboards; Randy Jackson - bass; Ray Mouton - guitar; Charles Singleton - guitar; Alvin Baptiste - clarinet, saxophone, flute
One of several performances recorded during the middle of February, 1978 at New York's legendary Bottom Line club for the King Biscuit Flower Hour, this performance shows jazz fusion superstar Billy Cobham moving in a decidedly more adventurous and decidedly jazz-flavored direction than his earlier rock-driven tours.
By featuring saxophonist Alvin Baptiste, Cobham lurks in the shadow of jazz great, Charlie Parker, and gives us an idea of what Parker might have been doing if he had lived long enough to play with an electric fusion band.
Credit must also be given to guitarist Ray Mouton, who is an excellent counterpart to Baptiste. (Interestingly, the bassist is future Journey member, Columbia Records A&R exec, and American Idol judge Randy Jackson).
After a ten minute version of "On A Magic Carpet Ride," Cobham and company deliver a nearly half hour rendition of "Ayajala." Superb versions of "Pffnstuff," "Stratus" and "Anteres-The Star" are followed by a typically superb Cobham drum solo.
Although Cobham had released nearly a half dozen solo studio and live albums since the breakup of Mahavishnu Orchestra, he was using this tour to promote his move to Columbia Records, where he would end up staying into the '80s.
Generally regarded as the greatest drummer to emerge from the jazz-rock fusion movement, Billy Cobham launched his solo career in 1973 after the demise of the acclaimed Mahavishnu Orchestra (which also included guitarist John McLaughlin and keyboardist Jan Hammer, among others).
Cobham had emerged from the highly competitive studio jazz scene in the mid-1960s. He spent some years in a Chicago-styled horn rock band called Dreams, but the group lasted only a couple of records before disbanding. By the end of the decade he was playing drums for jazz icon Miles Davis, where he also worked with McLaughlin. After Davis' Bitches Brew sessions, Cobham and McLaughlin departed, recruiting Hammer, bassist Rick Laird, and violinist Jerry Goodman from the Flock. Together, they formed the first and most celebrated lineup of Mahavishnu Orchestra, with Cobham's lightning fast drumming furnishing a critical contributing component to the music's unique potency.
Cobham's first post-Mahavishnu studio album, Spectrum, which featured Jan Hammer on keyboards and the late rock guitarist Tommy Bolin, made him a rock and jazz superstar overnight. Cobham never again matched the commercial success of Spectrum, although some of his later LPs were just as good artistically.