NEW YORK (CelebrityAccess) — Jimmy Cobb, a drummer who was the last surviving musician of the sextet that performed on Miles Davis’s legendary 1959 album Kind of Blue has died. He was 91.
According to National Public Radio, his wife, Eleana said Cobb died at his home in Manhattan on Sunday, after a battle with lung cancer.
Cobb was noted for his understated performance style, and deft use of brushes and symbols, which he attributed to his work with some of the greatest jazz vocalists in the history of the form.
“I guess the sensitivity probably comes from having to work with singers, because you have to really be sensitive there,” he told the Smithsonian in an recorded oral history in 2009. “You have to listen and just be a part of what’s going on.”
A native of Washington D.C., Cobb launched a touring career with saxophonist Earl Bostic in 1950, and went on to perform with the likes of Dinah Washington, Wynton Kelly, Charlie Rouse, Billie Holiday, and Dizzy Gillespie before he joined Miles Davis in 1957 on the strength of a recommendation from a former performing partner and sax player Julian “Cannonball” Adderley.
The sextet, which included Davis, Cobb and Adderley, also featured John Coltrane, and Wynton Kelly.
During his tenure with sextet, Cobb’s drum work provided the backbone to some of Davis’s best known recordings, including Kind of Blue (1959) Sketches of Spain (1960), Someday My Prince Will Come (1961), Miles Davis at Carnegie Hall (1962), In Person Friday and Saturday Nights at the Blackhawk, Complete, and briefly on Porgy and Bess (1959) and Sorcerer.
Cobb departed the group in 1963 and later partnered with Paul Chambers and later as part of a trio with Hank Jones on piano and Eddie Gómez on bass.
In the 1970s, he toured with jazz vocalist Sarah Vaughan before he took up teaching, holding positions at Stanford University, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and Berklee College of Music in Boston.
On October 17, 2008, Cobb was one of six artists who were selected to receive the 2009 National Endowment for the Arts NEA Jazz Masters award.