Jimmy Cobb, Jazz Drummer on Miles Davis’ ‘Kind of Blue,’ Dies at 91

Cobb also worked with jazz greats like Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughan, John Coltrane and Nancy Wilson

Last Updated: May 25, 2020 @ 12:51 PM

Jimmy Cobb, legendary jazz drummer and member of Miles Davis’ First Great Sextet, died Sunday at his Manhattan home of lung cancer, NPR reported. He was 91.

Cobb, who was with Davis’ group for almost three decades, was best known for his work on Davis’ landmark 1959 album “Kind of Blue,” which many critics have called the best jazz album of all time. He played on many other of Davis’ albums, including “Sketches of Spain,” “Someday My Prince Will Come,” “Miles Davis at Carnegie Hall,” “In Person Friday and Saturday Nights at the Blackhawk,” “Complete,” “Porgy and Bess” and “Sorcerer.”

In his decades-long career, Cobb also worked with other jazz legends such as Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughan, Dinah Washington, John Coltrane, Dizzy Gillespie, Pearl Baily and Nancy Wilson.

In a 2010 interview with the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, Cobb compared how musicians in his day learned how to play and improve their skills with musicians of today.

“It’s harder in one way, and it’s easier in another way, because right now, they got schools that you could buy — you can buy into,” he said, pointing out that he grew up in era before formal music education was popular — or affordable to aspiring artists like himself.

“So what we did, is had to learn the way we did, through the streets, through listening to people, through talking to people, and like that. Listen to records and all that,” Cobb explained. “They could still do all that, the guys now. They even got videos on top of that. But it’s not like what we had. We had — we could walk up and touch them guys, talk to him, know what he sounds like, what he thinks.”

In 2018, Cobb received the Don Redman Heritage Award and was one of six artists to receive the 2009 National Endowment for the Arts NEA Jazz Masters award.

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