"The street children fell into my realm of operations almost by chance, as it was not part of my original mandate. But due to the unavoidable specter and shadow cast by so many little personalities with big hearts and so much time to ponder life without parental direction, it was inevitable that I would find myself working with them… some of the brightest minds harboring raw talent that I have ever witnessed to date. The shame of it all was that many would never have the opportunity to use their gift."
A new project came into being, a band in which the voices and talents of the street children would be harnessed alongside the talents of Cobham's latest combo, the visionary trio that he put together with the then all-but unknown Ira Coleman on double bass; and Australian Joe Chindamo on piano. This was the grouping captured together on 1993's so-acclaimed 'Traveler' album. But another song informed by the Brazilian sojourn, Street Urchin, found its way onto 1992's 'By Design', and it was with that album fresh on the shelves that the trio set out on tour.
February 1992 saw Cobham, Coleman and Chindamo arrive in Japan, and it was there, in Tokyo on February 15, that they performed the breathtaking show from which these two albums have been drawn. Japanese audiences, says Cobham, are among his favorite in the world, and the feeling was clearly mutual. The audience's enthusiasm never lapses, and he rewarded them with a selection of songs that traveled back across his entire career - Crescent Sun, reaching all the way back to 1974's sophomore effort, 'Total Eclipse'; Shabazz, from the 1975 album of the same name.
The evening also looked towards the future - Reflected Journey, a magnificent piece that would later title one of Chindamo’s own solo albums; Prime Time, Key Jane... And all of them reworked and rearranged for the demands of the night, and the skills of the three piece. On record, Cobham habitually introduced fresh players, fresh instrumentation, and allowed their interpretations to flavor the individual compositions. In concert, whole new rearrangements were called for, and it was a mark of the talents with which he surrounded himself that every fresh revision felt somehow definitive; every one opened new doors through which the improvisations could stroll. Tonight in Tokyo, those doors were open as wide as they have ever been.
Billy Cobham remembers the night, hot and tight before one of his favorite audiences in the world. His latest album, 'By Design', was still fresh on the shelves and of course it would dominate the show, the epic Mirror's Image, the raucous Street Urchin and the playful Kinky Dee taking off from the cd for fresh destinations unknown. On record, Ernie Watts' sax was an integral part of the show; on stage, the trio moved in fresh directions and the music soared accordingly.
'Mirror's Image' tracklisting:
'Reflected Journey' tracklisting:
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