Billy Cobham: La Guernica
Billy Cobham (drums)
Magic/Simplicity of Expression (Jazz 2 on 1)
Marvin Stamm, Mike Lawrence (trumpets), Wayne Andre, Alan Raph, George Quinn (trombones), Mark Soskin (keyboards), Charles Singleton, Ray Mouton, Steve Khan (guitars), Randy Jackson (bass), and others.
Composed by Billy Cobham.
Recorded: New York, released 1978
Rating: 81/100 (learn more)
"La Guernica" appears to have much to offer. In terms of live components, it features fine musicians Billy Cobham, Mark Soskin, Randy Jackson, Alvin Batiste and 3 guitarists, a horn and a string section. This is quite some undertaking. In its scope it measures up to and in some ways sounds like the larger version of Chick Corea's Return to Forever band that was operating concurrently. There is some heavy drumming, some good Batiste and an overall feeling of forward motion. But, alas, the piece is more form than substance. Too bad. Steve Khan is a superb guitarist. The liner notes say he plays acoustic guitar. If you can discern acoustic guitar in this piece, your hearing trumps mine. I detect some interesting chords on electric that sound a lot like Khan. But is it him? How can I tell guitarist Singleton from guitarist Mouton? It is all just too much. Cobham, Batiste, Soskin and Jackson all sound good together. But it is as if their best parts, and the best part of the tune, are really just stuck in the middle of a ramped-up Spanish groove of extraneous horns and strings that we have all heard a thousand times.
I don't want my ingrained disappointment in Cobham's new directions at that time to paint such a bleak picture. Amazing how it still bothers me 30 years later. But music is a very personal thing. The fact is any tune featuring musicians of this caliber is worth hearing. This is music above the normal standards. You just have to relax some of your other standards to appreciate it. I am happy to say that Cobham seems to have rediscovered his groove in recent years.
Reviewer: Walter Kolosky