Mind-blowing rock music from some jazz guys

Today is the birthday of two people who broke the musical sound barrier, Robert Fripp and Billy Cobham. Both got their start playing straight jazz: Fripp spent three years playing jazz in the Majestic Dance Orchestra (he replaced future police guitarist Andy Summer – you know him from The Police) while Cobham started his career with luminaries such as Horace Silver, George Benson and, of course, Miles Davis.

Then there is Billy Cobham. Others had taken the fusion of jazz and rock to great heights before (e.g., Miles, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Tony Williams), but none quite like Billy did on Spectrum. Again, there is nothing that has sounded like the song Stratus ever again. The guitar work of Tommy Bolin on this track alone puts him in the legend category. And to think that the entire album was recorded in only a few days. Mind-blowing. Billy also would go on to explore variations of jazz, and his work with George Duke as well as his Drum ‘n Voice series are legendary, but no fusion album has been as ear-shattering in a good way to these ears as Spectrum. (Well, maybe Inner Mounting Flame which also featured Cobham).

Happy 80th, Billy. And happy 78th, Robert.

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