Arnett Cobb: Tough Tenor


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It's shaping up to be tenor sax sort of week. After all that Charlie Ventura over the past bunch of days, I found myself in the mood for Arnett Cobb. Born in Houston, Cobb played in locally bands until 1942, when he joined the Lionel Hampton Orchestra. Cobb played with Hampton until 1947—a critical period during which Hampton laid track for R&B and all the excitement and showmanship that would follow.

Cobb started his own band in the early '50s but was plagued by illness. A car crash in 1956 left him permanently reliant on crutches. One can only assume that his ailment was accompanied by a fair amount of pain. None of which stopped the Wild Man of the Tenor Sax from performing and giving jazz his all. Cobb died in 1989. [Pictured above, Lionel Hampton and Arnett Cobb in the late 1940s]

Here's Cobb in Berlin playing The Nearness of You in 1982...

Here's Cobb at the North Sea Jazz Festvial playing Deep Purple from 1979...

And here's Cobb and another tough tenor—Buddy Tate—playing She Got It...

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This story appears courtesy of JazzWax by Marc Myers.
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