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Concert Reviews

Billy Cobham’s SPECTRUM 40 At The Flato Markham Theatre



Billy Cobham and his Spectrum 40 band performance in the renovated Flato Markham Theatre last Wednesday, October 9, 2013, was a real treat for the hard fans of jazz-rock-fusion.

Live in Concert Report and Photographs by Atael Weissman

Billy Cobham and Spectrum 40 - 00Grey haired,  pony tailed followers of Mahavishnu Orchestra of the 1970s joined by the local drummers, filled the seats in anticipation to see the iconic Billy Cobham and his band, touring and celebrating 40 years since the release of his first solo jazz fusion album “Spectrum”. There were even some Russian fans of Mahavishnu Orchestra, who were buying  the LP’s during the 1970s on the Soviet black market for a quarter of their monthly salary.

Billy Cobham was performing with his good friends and collaborators on many recordings, Gary Husband on keyboards, Dean Brown on guitar and Ric Fierabracci on the bass.

The accomplishments of Billy Cobham are hard to list in one review. His multifaceted career includes studying drums at the New York’s High School of Arts, playing in the U.S Army band, performing with most of the major jazz artists from Miles Davis, Brecker brothers, George Duke, Horace Silver, John McLaughlin and many,  many others.

Panamanian by birth, a New Yorker by upbringing, and a resident of Switzerland for more than 25 years, Cobham was a founding member of the original Mahavishnu Orchestra in the early 1970s while he developed his distinct style of jazz fusion, blending elements of jazz, rock and roll and funk and one of the first drummers to include electronic drums in his equipment.

But beyond and above the performing, composing, leading the bands and recording,  Cobham is very intimately involved in the world of music education, charity and various international projects,  including the documentary film “Sonic Mirror”, screened at major film festivals around the world. As its Finnish film director Miki Kaurismaki noted: “ We decided to do a film about Billy and some of his projects, focusing on rhythm and music as communication and universal language”.  For Cobham “it verifies the value of music as an important factor in this world. If used for the greater good it can be a powerful ally”.

The show in Markham was very well attended and well received.

Flato Markham Theatre is doing an outstanding job attracting major performing artists to its stage and becoming a very popular venue in the Greater Toronto Area.

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Atael Weissman’s main occupation is as an engineering consultant. Born, raised and educated in one of the former Soviet Union republics, which is now Latvia. He lived in Israel and now in Canada, for the last 28 years. Photography and jazz music have been his main hobbies for many years -perfect combination.

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