Search This Blog

Saturday, May 23, 2009

BILLY COBHAM : Stratus (1973)

Here is a classic track by master fusion drummer Billy Cobham. Since he was already playing in the intense environment of Mahavishnu Orchestra, it became apparent from his solo output that Cobham wanted tunes that were more funky.
Allmusic has words:
This is one of the most potent instances of the viability of the jazz-rock merger. Of course this style had been done a few years earlier with acts like Tony Williams Lifetime and the Mahavishnu Orchestra. In fact Cobham was a member with Mahavishnu when this was recorded. As tension began to give off sparks in that unit, he thought about doing a solo album. "Stratus" was the most influential track from Cobham's debut, "Spectrum", from 1973. How "Stratus" is different is that it featured guitarist Tommy Bolin's rock style. It proved especially incendiary in the jazz-rock idiom. Throughout "Stratus" his playing was less concerned with sounding "pretty" like many jazz guitarists, and his burning solos just go for the jugular. Of course that's not unlike Cobham's drumming style. No wonder they played so well together. Unlike a lot of the era's finest work, "Stratus" has endured.
In 1991 elements of Lee Sklar's loping bass part were used in Massive Attack's "Safe From Harm." For Bolin, he continued to be respected in jazz and rock until his death from a drug overdose in 1976. Posthumously, live versions of "Stratus" have appeared on solo albums released on the label Tommy Bolin Archives. This version of "Stratus" was the perfect way for Cobham display his skills as a composer and to kick off his successful solo career.

A 10-minute groove from start to finish, which leans more towards that funk than jazz. You can really hear Cobham go crazy at the finale at 9:52, with a rock-ish riff. Jan Hammer came from Mahavishnu to help, before going on to his own solo career. Tommy Bolin was just getting his big break, as he had just joined The James Gang. Lee Sklar, even the studio bassist, was just there to add this album to his thousands of sessions.

This song was also featured in the "Grand Theft IV" video game soundtrack.
Song : "Stratus" by Billy Cobham
From the LP "SPECTRUM" (Atlantic) Oct. 1, 1973

Billy Cobham : drums
Tommy Bolin : guitar
Jan Hammer : electric piano, Moog synthesizer
Lee Sklar : bass

Get it here : Stratus

No comments: