Billy Cobham: To the Women in My Life / Le Lis


To the Women in My Life / Le Lis


Billy Cobham (drums and percussion)


Spectrum (Atlantic 7268-2)

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Billy Cobham (drums and percussion),

Jimmy Owens (trumpet), Joe Farrell (sax), Jan Hammer (electric piano, acoustic piano, Moog synthesizer), John Tropea (guitar), Ron Carter (bass), Ray Barretto (congas)


Composed by Billy Cobham


Recorded: New York, mid-May 1973


Rating: 90/100 (learn more)

Spectrum was filled with much more than just the power drumming of Billy Cobham and screaming assaults from Tommy Bolin's electric guitar and Jan Hammer's Moog synthesizer. Cobham put together a more jazz-oriented group for two of the album's most beautiful cuts. While Jan Hammer was still included, John Tropea replaced Bolin, bassist Ron Carter replaced Lee Sklar and a horn section was added. "Spectrum" and "To the Women in My Life / Le Lis," the piece reviewed here, were relaxed groove affairs dominated by melodious horns.

The song opens with a lush and somewhat fragile Hammer piano excursion. That is always a good way to introduce any tune. A laid-back Cobham then supports the very hummable theme presented to us by the serene-sounding horn section. Hammer takes the first solo on synthesizer, and plays it close to the vest. Saxophonist Joe Farrell, who was also added for the recording, offers some further lessons, but we are not given any homework. Much like sorbet between spicy courses, this tune cleanses the palate and prepares you for the next dish.

While the rest of the album was very much from the Mahavishnu Orchestra school, in which Cobham was still enrolled while recording this album, "To the Women in My Life / Le Lis" (and "Spectrum") represented an entirely different curriculum. This tune was more about Cobham's composing skills, and proved that the machine-like drummer was capable of showing great patience. The musical characteristics of "Spectrum" and "To the Women in My Life / Le Lis" would carry over to Cobham's next album, Crosswinds.

Reviewer's Note: Some downloading services separate "To the Women in My Life / Le Lis" into two distinct pieces for purchase. The song's introductory section, "To the Women in My Life," is all of 51 seconds long. Beautiful as those 51 seconds are, they were not meant to stand alone. You will have to download both titles to listen to the complete song. Sorry. But this brings up an idea for all of you struggling musicians out there who are lucky enough to be offering your music for sale. You should start breaking up your song titles with hyphens, slashes or part numbers. That way the downloading service companies will list for sale many more songs than you actually created. This will enable you to profit from their mistake of overcharging your loyal fans. Jeez.

Reviewer: Walter Kolosky

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  • 1 Ted McCallion // Sep 09, 2008 at 08:58 PM
    Billy Cobham's compositional skills have always been overlooked. How many drummers out there who lead their own bands write most of the band's material ? Few , if any, besides Cobham. I'm not saying he's another George Gershwin, but I usually enjoy the tunes he writes.