This is Billy Cobham's third solo recording under his own name and is a fine follow-up to Crosswinds. The mini-suite "Solarization" not only showcases the band's technical abilities, but also Cobham's strong compositional skills. It also features a schizophrenic piano solo ("Second Phase") from the underrated pianist Milcho Leviev, who sounds like a mutation of Cecil Taylor and Bill Evans.
This is the companion disc to Flight Time, which was also recorded for the Inakustik label. While not quite as original as its predecessor it is still highly recommended. A young Mike Stern had not completely developed his sound yet, but is still unmistakable. Violinist Michael Urbaniak's presence gives Cobham classics like "Stratus," "AC/DC" and "Total Eclipse" a fresh sound. Here again, Cobham is more than willing to let his collegues step to the forefront and offer up their unique ideas, some better than other (Goldstein's "Wrapped in a Cloud" is enchanting while Landers' Reggae offering, "All Hallows Eve," falls flat).
Shabazz captures Cobham's Total Eclipse band in a live setting, and contains two originals, "Shabazz" and "Tenth Pin." The other two songs, "Taurian Matador" and "Red Baron," which debuted on Cobham's classic recording, Spectrum, are given an impressive update. All of the songs are blowing sessions allowing each musician ample time to develop their ideas. Cobham attacks his drums with a vengeance on the introduction to "Shabazz" and on his powerful solo for "Tenth Pin." This is a good, old-fashioned blowing session that captures one of Cobham's best bands at their peak.
Following two studio recordings, this impressive band hit the road and cut this session with keyboardist George Duke. Their encounter provided for an uneven, but infectious, recording. "Hip Pockets," composed by Cobham, and "Ivory Tattoo," composed by Scofield, begin the session with some intense playing. Things get a bit goofy with "Space Lady" (a song which probably worked better live), and a bit melodramatic with "Almustafa the Beloved."
A two-LP set of drummer Billy Cobham's harder to find recordings from the later '70s. Of the two, Magic is far superior and is generally regarded as one of his most interesting recordings in his extensive discography. The addition of Simplicity of Expression: Depth of Thought amounts to nothing more than a throw in. Cobham recorded some embarrassing disco during the late '70s and this is a prime example. This two-fer is too good to pass up, though, and makes the LP highly recommended for fusion collectors.
A lesser known Cobham recording that has only been available in the U.S. as an import. Cobham also seems to push guitarists to new heights (i.e. Tommy Bolin, John Abercrombie, John Scofield) and does so here with Barry Finnerty. Their interaction on the tune "Flight Time" is reminiscent of Cobham/Bolin on Spectrum. Yet, despite the intensity and chops of Finnerty and Cobham, this session is remarkably restrained thanks in large part to the thoughtful playing of keyboarist Don Grolnick. There is a definite sense of a band here, rather than just a collection of all-stars playing Billy Cobham songs; in fact, the only Cobham retread is "Antares" (from Magic). Whether it is Don Grolnick's piano solo on "6 Persimmons" or his opening duet with Barry Finnerty on "Princess," Cobham should get just as much credit for what he did not play.
Generally acclaimed as fusion's greatest drummer, Billy Cobham's explosive technique powered some of the genre's most important early recordings – including groundbreaking efforts by Miles Davis and the Mahavishnu Orchestra – before he became an accomplished bandleader in his own right. At his best, Cobham harnessed his amazing dexterity into thundering, high-octane hybrids of jazz complexity and rock & roll aggression. He was capable of subtler, funkier grooves on the one hand, and awe-inspiring solo improvisations on the other; in fact, his technical virtuosity was such that his flash could sometimes overwhelm his music.