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Hot Licks: Double Bass On Record

Billy Cobham

Billy Cobham’s strong rudimental chops, blistering speed, large multi-tom kit, open-handed stance, and powerful double bass skills allowed him to change the sound and look of jazz in the fusion group Mahavishnu Orchestra. After leaving that revolutionary group, Cobham formed his own band and released a series of solo records.

His first solo album, Spectrum, included a track named “Quadrant 4,” which featured one of the first recorded fast double bass shuffles. Playing a double bass shuffle is tricky enough, but Cobham came out of the gate at 250 bpm, absolutely owning the groove while effortlessly ghosting notes on his snare. Also, notice that his ride pattern is based on the traditional jazz ride pattern. While Cobham tends to play his grooves open handed, he leads his double bass shuffles with his right foot. An interesting side note: He was also one of the first drummers to experiment with three differently sized bass drums and three snare drums on his large kit.

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Billy Cobham

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