Tenor saxophonist Arnett Cobb (1918-89) is often lumped with the “bar-walkers,” wailing sax players who often literally jumped on top of the bar to honk their way from the bandstand to the door. He was certainly on the scene during that era, but he was an es- tablished star well before then, and he remained active almost to his death. Cobb is the epitome of Texas Tenor, a robust, honk- ing player who hit the ground running with Lionel Hampton in the early 1940s; he had the unenviable task of replacing his old friend Illinois Jacquet, and he succeeded admirably – Hampton had to record Flying' Home #2 to give record buyers a chance to hear Arnett's take on the Hampton classic.
Cobb remained active despite more than his share of physical misfortunes – he was injured in a car crash and spent his last thirty years on crutches, but his playing remained strong. This session was recorded in 1980 by Gus Statiras, for his original Progressive label. Cobb is fronting a strong quartet including Derek Smith, piano; Ray Drummond, bass; and Ronnie Bedford, drums. They energetically tackle a nice mix of standards, including Jumpin' at the Woodside, I Got Rhythm, Satin Doll, and Georgia On My Mind, along with two takes of a nice blues and a relatively scarce Billy Strayhorn number, Isfahan, and Radium Springs Swings, a nice blues from flutist James Newton.
Pianist Derek Smith works well with Cobb; he was a favorite of Statiras' – he made five sides as leader for him and appeared as a sideman on several others. Jumpin' at the Woodside is typical of the tunes on this session- the quartet works well together with fleet playing from Smith and beautiful work from Cobb – his tone was still full and rich at this point in his career. Bedford works well in this setting, adding just the right accents. Cobb sounds like he's having fun – they get into a nice groove on the Funky Butt (no relation to the Morton number) and throw in additional choruses on the alternative take.
Another great session from the original Progressive label, complete with a David Stone Martin cover, one touch Gus Statiras used to differentiate Progressive from all the other one-man jazz labels.