Thursday, September 19, 2013

Drummer Billy Cobham plays St. Petersburg Friday

   Oct. 1 will mark the 40th anniversary of Billy Cobham's legendary debut album "Spectrum." Cobham's marking the occasion with an American tour he's calling "Spectrum 40." 
   The tour kicks off Friday at the Palladium in St. Petersburg.
   In 1973, Cobham was already a major force in jazz fusion, having played with Miles Davis and having been a member of the Mahavishnu Orchestra, and he's been recording ever since. But "Spectrum" is still considered his seminal recording. It helped define the fusion genre, and Cobham's innovative drumming style on that album has influenced drummers ever since.
"Spectrum" album cover
   He can't reassemble the band from that album since guitarist Tommy Bolin died in 1976. (In a recent Skype interview from his home in Switzerland, Cobham called Bolin "B.B. King in a young man's skin.") But he's put together a band of long-time musical collaborators, including bassist Ric Fierabracci, guitarist Dean Brown and keyboardist Gary Husband.
   The concert will include four or five pieces from "Spectrum," plus other selections from Cobham's career.
   In the interview, Cobham said that he's eschewing cities like New York on this tour, opting instead for places like St. Petersburg, Albuquerque, N.M. and Akron, Ohio. "The real America," he said.
   He came into St. Petersburg early, and on Thursday he conducted clinics with music students from local high schools and colleges. At one point, when he asked if anybody had any questions, a music teacher asked, "Do you have any albums out?"
   Friday's show, which is presented by the Mahaffey Theater even though it's at the Palladium, starts at 8 p.m. Tickets are $30, $40 and $50. Call 727-892-5767 or go to for tickets and information.
   The Palladium is at 253 Fifth Ave. N., St Petersburg. Call
727-822-3590 or go to  for venue information.

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