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Billy Cobham - Mirror's Image / Reflected Journey

Now into his seventh decade, the legend that is Billy Cobham is still going strong. From an auspicious start in the late 60's with Miles Davis to the groundbreaking Mahavishnu Orchestra and his work with John McLaughlin, he's had an amazing career. However, it wasn't until his first solo album 'Spectrum' in 1973 which showcased his unique style and technique that he really began to shine as jazz fusion's preeminent drummer.

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From then on he pushed the genre forward with his own band ''Glass Menagerie'' as well as playing with the likes of Jack Bruce, Marc Almond, and The Grateful Dead, and by 1992 had put together a trio comprising of a then all but unknown Ira Coleman on double bass and Australian Joe Chindamo on piano. This is the group that is captured here on two live albums (both from the same concert in Japan), as part of the 1992 tour supporting the release of the ''By Design'' album.

From the offset of the first disc (Mirror's Image) the rapturous Japanese crowd are showing their appreciation as it's easy to see why Cobham has said they are among his favourite crowds in the world. Throughout the two CD's we travel back across his whole career with classics such as 'Shabazz', 'Crescent Sun' and 'Total Eclipse', but we also look forward to the future as the trio preview some (at the time) yet to be released numbers from future albums. All the tracks here have been rearranged to suit the dynamics of a live trio as opposed to their studio versions. And this is where the trio really shine, taking the tracks in new directions, opening them up and really letting loose for the Tokyo crowd.

I am unsure as to why the two half's of the same live set are split up into two separate releases, as opposed to a standard double live album which would make to whole thing flow a bit more cohesively. And also as to why it has taken so long to actually get a release as the two discs here capture what was surely a great hot, sweaty, fun filled night in downtown Tokyo, whilst also managing to mix older classics with fresh compositions.

A must have for any Cobham enthusiasts or collectors and also a worthwhile starting point for any young drummer wanting to check out the legend.

Available now on Cleopatra Records.

Ashley Hallinan

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