Exclusive stream: Billy Cobham, “Crosswinds/ Stratus” from Compass Point (2013)

This exclusive in-concert stream from Billy Cobham, one of jazz rock’s most powerful drummers but also one of its most rhythmically intriguing, combines key moments from two-early 1970s solo efforts.

Cobham had, by then, already made his mark as the flamboyant, racing heart on a series of ground-breaking fusion recordings by Miles Davis (including 1970′s Bitches Brew; 1971′s Live-Evil and A Tribute to Jack Johnson; and 1972′s On the Corner) along with Mahavishnu Orchestra’s celebrated 1971 debut Inner Mounting Flame. But Cobham, as improbable as it would seem, had yet to release his masterwork — 1973′s solo Spectrum, featuring George Duke, Tommy Bolin and John Scofield. He’d follow that with the 1974 Crosswinds collaboration with John Abercrombie.

Compass Point, recorded live in 1997 at the eponymous Bahamas venue but just now seeing release from Purple Pyramid Records, closes with a remarkable melding of “Stratus” from the first and the title track from the second. Together, they show that time has done nothing to blunt Cobham’s still-stirring skills.

“Crosswinds” quickly coalesces around a complex and then sizzlingly funky groove from Cobham, before the rest of his groove-tastic amalgam join in — the chin-wagging bass from Stefan Rademacher (Lenny Castro, Idris Muhammad), the complex and angular keyboard work of Gary Husband (John McLaughlin, Allan Holdsworth) and a soaring, anthematic electric guitar from Carl Orr (Steve Hunter). Cobham and Co. then effortlessly transition into an undulating take on a key track from Spectrum.

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has also explored music for publications like USA Today, Gannett News Service, All About Jazz and Popdose for nearly 30 years. Honored as newspaper columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section that was named Top 10 in the nation by the AP in 2006. Contact him at nderiso@somethingelsereviews.com.