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Jimmy Cobb, ‘Kind of Blue’ drummer for Miles Davis, dies at 91

In this 2019 photo, musician Jimmy Cobb poses for the release of his album 'This I Dig of You'.
In this 2019 photo, musician Jimmy Cobb poses for the release of his album 'This I Dig of You'. Courtesy of Smoke Sessions Records via AP

Jimmy Cobb, the veteran American drummer, died on Sunday. He was 91.

The musician was best known as the percussionist for Miles Davis‘ “First Great Sextet” between 1957 and 1963 and played on several of his albums, including 1959’s monumental Kind of Blue — the most popular jazz record of all time.

Cobb was also the last surviving member of the genre-shaping project, which also featured fellow jazz legends John Coltrane, Julian “Cannonball” Adderly and pianist Bill Evans among several others.

The Washington, D.C.-born drummer’s wife, Eleana Tee Cobb, announced that he had died at their shared home in Manhattan, New York City, on May 24 after losing his battle with lung cancer, according to the Associated Press (AP).

“He was a very special and unusual person — a gifted musician with natural talent, like an athlete and a gifted human being with a great, happy personality,” Eleana told the New York Daily News in a statement. She added that he was surrounded by his family.

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In the wake of the news, an influx of grief-stricken fans and friends made their way to Twitter to share their fond memories of Cobb and his music in touching tributes.

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“Rest in power, Jimmy Cobb,” wrote another Twitter user. “One of the undisputed goats.”

“Nobody swung with more conviction on the kit. Kind of Blue wouldn’t have worked without him,” they concluded.

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Even before his six-year stint with Davis, Cobb was known for drumming with artists like Earl Bostic, Pearl Bailey, Clark Terry and the legendary Billie Holiday among several others before releasing several solo albums of his own.

Before he became a professional musician, however, Cobb told AP that he would listen to jazz albums non-stop and stay up late just so he could hear New York City radio DJ Symphony Sid’s jazz selection.

In his late 20s, Cobb spent three years performing with Adderley. He appeared on several of his records before the iconic saxophonist recommended him to Davis.

On the success of Kind of Blue — which to this day, has sold more than four million copies worldwide Cobb joked, “We knew it was pretty damned good.”

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Cobb played actively up until the end of his life, performing occasional shows and recording his own material.

His final album, This I Dig of You, was released only last August through Smoke Sessions Records and was well-received among jazz fans.

Jazz drummer Jimmy Cobb performs with his So What Band celebrating 50 years of Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue during a concert at Guimaraes Jazz festival, in Guimaraes, Portugal on Nov. 12, 2009.
Jazz drummer Jimmy Cobb performs with his So What Band celebrating 50 years of Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue during a concert at Guimaraes Jazz festival, in Guimaraes, Portugal on Nov. 12, 2009. Estela Silva/EPA

Cobb — born Wilbur James Cobb, on Jan. 20, 1929 — is survived by his wife Eleana and their two daughters: Serena and Jaime.

For additional details on Cobb’s life and career, you can visit his official website.

— With files from the Associated Press

adam.wallis@globalnews.ca
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