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“Jimmy, you know what to do”

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Jimmy Cobb, the drummer who made crucial contributions to landmark jazz recordings including Kind of Blue, Someday My Prince Will Come and Sketches of Spain has died at 91:

Jimmy Cobb, whose subtle and steady drumming formed the pulse of some of jazz’s most beloved recordings, died at his home in Manhattan on Sunday. He was 91.

The cause was lung cancer, says his wife, Eleana Tee Cobb.

Cobb was the last surviving member of what’s often called Miles Davis’ First Great Sextet. He held that title for almost three decades, serving as a conduit for many generations of jazz fans into the band that recorded the music’s most iconic and enduring album, Kind of Blue.

It’s impossible to overstate how much his playing, which propelled that all-star group forward with delicate washes of cymbals and brush-stroked snare, contributed to Kind of Blue‘s undeniable bounce and feel. “Jimmy, you know what to do,” Davis told Cobb before the session. “Just make it sound like it’s floating.” And it does: The perfect tension between Cobb’s signature driving cymbal beat and Paul Chambers’ relaxed walking bassline makes most people’s first jazz album one that you can — or can’t help but — move to.

R.I.P.

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