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Jazz Review

Cobb's Mob Pairs Drummer With Young Lions


Drummer Jimmy Cobb's resume is an impressive one. He was a member of the rhythm section on Miles Davis' "Kind of Blue," the best-selling jazz album in history, and on the legendary trumpeter's "Some Day My Prince Will Come" and "Sketches of Spain" (among others). Much favored for his forceful sense of swing, he was also associated with Wes Montgomery, Cannonball Adderley, Sarah Vaughan, Sonny Stitt and J.J. Johnson, to name only a few.

So it wasn't surprising that Cobb's Mob, the quartet he brought to the Jazz Bakery on Tuesday for the opening of a four-night run, performed with dedicated attention to the mainstream essentials of jazz.

Working with considerably younger players--pianist Brad Mehldau, guitarist Peter Bernstein and bassist John Webber--the 70-year-old Cobb, magisterially garbed in white, played the role of a wise jazz master. Declining to place his percussion at the center of the music (as some drum leaders cannot resist doing), he was content to serve as the music's internal combustion engine, driving the proceedings forward with the powerful but precise rhythmic drive that have made him a musicians' favorite for decades.

Bernstein and Webber have been regular Cobb associates, present on his current album, "Only for the Pure of Heart" (Fable Records). But Mehldau was a new element (replacing Richard Wyands), and his playing added an attractive new dimension to the musical mix. It was particularly fascinating to hear him working in tandem with Bernstein, like Mehldau a rapidly rising new jazz star.

In an easy-loping blues, for example, Bernstein concluded his solo with a brief, riff-like figure. Immediately picking up the phrase, Mehldau shifted it, turned it around, reexamined it and made it a subject for improvisational development through the first segment of his solo. Other tunes--a floating, 6/4 rendering of "Love for Sale," among others--benefited from similar interactions, with Webber working hand in glove with Cobb to produce an evening energized by the quartet's irresistible flow of swing.


* Jimmy Cobb's Mob at the Jazz Bakery through Saturday. 3233 Helms Ave., Culver City. (310) 271-9039. $20 admission tonight and Saturday at 8 and 9:30 p.m.

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