Generally acclaimed as fusion's greatest drummer, Billy Cobham's explosive technique powered some of the genre's most important early recordings – including groundbreaking efforts by Miles Davis and the Mahavishnu Orchestra – before he became an accomplished bandleader in his own right. At his best, Cobham harnessed his amazing dexterity into thundering, high-octane hybrids of jazz complexity and rock & roll aggression. He was capable of subtler, funkier grooves on the one hand, and awe-inspiring solo improvisations on the other; in fact, his technical virtuosity was such that his flash could sometimes overwhelm his music.
Anyone who caught Jeff Beck's set at Eric Clapton's 2007 Crossroads Guitar Festival (or even the two-song DVD excerpt) was probably salivating at the hope that an entire performance with the same band would appear on CD and DVD. This is it, 72 minutes and 16 tracks compiled from a week of shows at the U.K.'s famed Ronnie Scott's, and it's as impressive as any Beck fan would expect. The guitarist's last official U.S.-released live disc was from his 1976 Wired tour (an authorized "bootleg" of his 2006 tour with bassist Pino Palladino is available at gigs and online; others pop up as expensive imports), making the appearance of this music from just over three decades later a long-awaited, much-anticipated event.
It's been six years since these same performers got together to create one of the decade's more unusual experiments in musical alchemy. Beginning with the raw materials of early music and modern jazz, the four male voices of the Hilliard Ensemble joined with jazz saxophonist Jan Garbarek to see what would happen when the proper measure of old music and new style were combined, shaped by the performers' considerable experience and collective aesthetic vision.