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.
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.
We lost a dear friend with the passing of drummer #JimmyCobb. Every time Mr. Cobb sat down behind the drum set at Dizzy’s Club, we all shared an awed sense of gratitude to have the living legend on our stage. Thanks for everything, Jimmy! RIP, and live on through the music. pic.twitter.com/50iYLxrg4Z
— Jazz at Lincoln Center (@jazzdotorg) May 25, 2020
RIP Jimmy Cobb, the last surviving member of the sessions that created Kind of Blue.
The sextet is back together again. pic.twitter.com/3jTz8eg79F
— Edwin López Rivera 🏠 (@elopezri) May 25, 2020
May 26, 2014 The Dedication of Miles Davis Way W. 77th St. NYC A special day.
Visiting w/Larry Coryell, Lenny White and the master of Time, Swing, Tippin’ & Groove: Jimmy Cobb. Thank you for your gifts to all of us Jimmy. We are still listening & learning. pic.twitter.com/FO1ORK7OCb
— Steve Smith (@stevesmithdrums) May 26, 2020
Sir Jimmy Cobb. You swung loving energy to everyone. We will always love you. RIP. 💔 pic.twitter.com/uUdgpz7PrC
— Christian McBride (@mcbridesworld) May 25, 2020
RIP Jimmy Cobb. In his honor I practiced a solo that all pianists fool around with, Wynton Kelly on "Freddie Freeloader" from KIND OF BLUE. Every solo on this classic album seems bathed in an ethereal light, and of course Cobb's beat has *everything* to do with the magic. pic.twitter.com/x8uuvfeb4Q
— Ethan Iverson (@ethan_iverson) May 25, 2020
“Rest in power, Jimmy Cobb,” wrote another Twitter user. “One of the undisputed goats.”
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.”
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.
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
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