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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Billy Cobham

Reflected Journey

Review by Gary Hill

I always like Billy Cobham’s stuff. I don’t know how anyone who enjoys jazz could not like his music. There is a lot of fusion built into this, but some of it is traditional jazz, too. We generally land him under prog, both for his work in Mahavishnu Orchestra and because that seems a good place for jazz. However you label the music, though, this is a killer live jazz album.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2015  Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Prime Time

Drums lead off here. As the other instruments join it resembles Frank Zappa for a time. It works out to more mainstream fusion from there. After a time with various changes, it drops down to a bass solo that’s a bit strange, but also quite driving. Cobham gets an extended drum solo later in the piece. Then they bring it back out into full group treatment fusion. It still shifts and shakes up the construction quite a bit from there, though.

Key Jane
More of an old school jazz jam, this covers some great territory. It includes another bass solo, this one more purely melodic. All three musicians get the chance to show off, though. Still, it’s all for the sake of creating a better and more intense musical experience. This really has some great grooves.
Reflected Journey
This opens as a pretty straight line fusion jam. It carries like that for a time before it drops to a dramatic bass driven motif. It works forward from there, getting a little strange (in a good way) for a time. It eventually builds back out to more mainstream fusion from that point, though. Cobham gets a chance to really show off as the melody continues moving the piece onward. It’s a great piece with a lot of different flavors.
Crescent Sun
The shortest of the previous cuts was almost ten minutes long. At a little over five minutes in length, this is the longest of the last three. It starts with a mellower movement. That section is marred by some recording sounds. It actually sounds like the master used was a record and it had some scratching. It gets better soon, though and this moves out to fast paced fusion that’s quite strong.
Shabazz
This is a  short (about a minute and a half) fusion jam that includes both fuller sections and more stripped down ones. It closes with a piano solo.
Improvisation
And, here we have about three and half minutes of improv in a very traditional jazz style.
 
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