Billy Cobham - drums, percussion; Mark Soskin - keyboards; Randy Jackson - bass; Ray Mouton - guitar; Charles Singleton - guitar; Alvin Baptiste - clarinet, saxophone, flute
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). For this show, recorded at New York's legendary Bottom Line club on 4th Street, Cobham assembled an all-star fusion band that included Mark Soskin on keyboards, Charles Singleton and Alvin Baittse on reeds, renowned guitarist Ray Moulton and a little-known bass player at the time named Randy Jackson. Jackson, of course, would emerge decades later as a Sony Music A&R VP and judge on the hugely popular American Idol TV show. Although Cobham had released nearly a half dozen solo studio and live albums since the breakup of Mahavishnu, he was using this tour to promote his move to Columbia Records, where he would end up staying through the rest of the '80s.
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 would depart, 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. Highlights of this show include the classic "On A Magic Carpet Ride" and the funky romp "Magic."