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Miles Davis drummer Jimmy Cobb dies of lung cancer at 91

Jimmy Cobb, a prolific jazz drummer who most famously worked with Miles Davis, has died at the age of 91. 

The musician, born Wilbur James Cobb, succumbed to a lengthy battle with lung cancer in his Manhattan home on Sunday, his wife Eleana Tee Cobb told NPR. Cobb is survived by his wife and their two daughters.  

He was the last surviving member of what is known as Miles Davis’ First Great Sextet which included saxophonists John Coltrane and Julian ‘Cannonball’ Adderley, pianist Bill Evans, bassist Paul Chambers, Cobb and Davis. 

Legendary jazz drummer Jimmy Cobb died of lung cancer, at age 91, on Sunday in his Manhattan Home (pictured in 1959)

Legendary jazz drummer Jimmy Cobb died of lung cancer, at age 91, on Sunday in his Manhattan Home (pictured in 1959)

Legendary jazz drummer Jimmy Cobb died of lung cancer, at age 91, on Sunday in his Manhattan Home (pictured in 1959)

Together the sextet recorded Davis’ 1959 album Some Kind Of Blue which is largely regarded as ‘one of the most important, influential and popular albums in jazz,’ by Rolling Stone

Some Kind Of Blue is also assumed to be the best selling jazz recorded of all time being RIAA certified Quintuple Platinum, selling five million copies. 

Over his 70-year career, Cobb also worked with Dinah Washington, Billie Holiday and Pearl Bailey, among others. 

Born in Washington D.C. in 1929, Cobb bought his first drum set at age 13, started playing professionally at 18 and by the 1950 he began a touring career with Earl Bostic. 

He was the last surviving member of what is known as Miles Davis' First Great Sextet which included saxophonists John Coltrane and Julian 'Cannonball' Adderley, pianist Bill Evans, bassist Paul Chambers, Cobb and Davis (pictured in 2008)

He was the last surviving member of what is known as Miles Davis' First Great Sextet which included saxophonists John Coltrane and Julian 'Cannonball' Adderley, pianist Bill Evans, bassist Paul Chambers, Cobb and Davis (pictured in 2008)

He was the last surviving member of what is known as Miles Davis’ First Great Sextet which included saxophonists John Coltrane and Julian ‘Cannonball’ Adderley, pianist Bill Evans, bassist Paul Chambers, Cobb and Davis (pictured in 2008)

‘I figured it was something I’d like to do,’ Cobb said in an interview at NYU in 2019 on how he started drumming. ‘And when I learned enough to do it, I figured that would be what I would do for the rest of my life.’ 

By 1959, he went on to join Davis’ sexted, at just 30-years-old and later recorded many more albums with the jazz legend including Sketches of Spain and Someday My Prince Will Come.  

He received the Don Redman Heritage Award in 2008, which is presented to ‘legends of jazz whose musicianship, humanity and dignity serve as an asset to jazz in the tradition of Don Redman,’ according to the award’s website. 

Cobb was inducted into the Percussive Arts Society Hall of Fame in 2011 as ‘one of the last of the great drummers who defined the post-bop style of the 1950s and ’60.’

Together the sextet recorded Davis' 1959 album Some Kind of Blue which is largely regarded as 'one of the most important, influential and popular albums in jazz,' by Rolling Stone  (pictured right on stage with Miles Davis in 1960)

Together the sextet recorded Davis' 1959 album Some Kind of Blue which is largely regarded as 'one of the most important, influential and popular albums in jazz,' by Rolling Stone  (pictured right on stage with Miles Davis in 1960)

Together the sextet recorded Davis’ 1959 album Some Kind of Blue which is largely regarded as ‘one of the most important, influential and popular albums in jazz,’ by Rolling Stone  (pictured right on stage with Miles Davis in 1960)

At the time, fellow drummer Peter Erskine said: ‘Simply put, the world’s a better place because of Jimmy Cobb’s drumming, and it’s delightful to know he is being inducted into the PAS Hall of Fame. The PAS is a better place now for this.’  

Cobb seemed to understand being a living link to jazz history and legends. 

‘I’ve been in the right place at the right time a lot of times,’ he said. “[But today] it’s not walking up and shaking the dude’s hand and talking about things, or asking him questions.’ 

After news of his death, musician Ted Giogia tweeted: ‘This is a devastating loss—the death of a beloved musician, but also the end of an era, as we lose the last surviving member of a historic ensemble.’ 

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Over his 70-year career, along with Davis Cobb worked with Dinah Washington, Billie Holiday and Pearl Bailey, among others. Born in Washington D.C. in 1929, Cobb bought his first drum set at age 13, started playing professionally at 18 and by the 1950 he began a touring career with Earl Bostic (pictured in 2015)

Over his 70-year career, along with Davis Cobb worked with Dinah Washington, Billie Holiday and Pearl Bailey, among others. Born in Washington D.C. in 1929, Cobb bought his first drum set at age 13, started playing professionally at 18 and by the 1950 he began a touring career with Earl Bostic (pictured in 2015)

Over his 70-year career, along with Davis Cobb worked with Dinah Washington, Billie Holiday and Pearl Bailey, among others. Born in Washington D.C. in 1929, Cobb bought his first drum set at age 13, started playing professionally at 18 and by the 1950 he began a touring career with Earl Bostic (pictured in 2015)

As well as his decades long career as a band member and freelance musician, he also taught including master classes at Stanford University, University of Greensboro and San Francisco State University.  

Earlier this year in January, his daughter Serena created a GoFundMe page to raise money for his medical expenses. 

‘Mentally and spiritually my father is as youthful and energetic as ever,’ Serena wrote at the time. ‘But for the past 2 years he’s been dealing with some medical issues that have been causing severe challenges for him physically.’

She went on to explain that at the time he needed a full time caregiver as they chose holistic care which required ‘100% out of pocket coverage for both treatment and visits, as it isn’t covered by insurance.’

Cobb most recently released solo album This I Dig of You in 2019. 

Source: Daily Mail – ShowBiz

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