Bill Cosby, master comedian, actor, and would-be musician, managed to secure an agreement with Verve where, in the first of a series of jazz albums, he would "lead" a group of top-notch musicians in his "compositions." He claims to have conceived these pieces himself, humming the notes to amanuenses Stu Gardner and Art Lisi -- which may well be the case, but more often than not, it sounds like the musicians on the session were given their own head to jam away. Actually, a lot of these sessions are pretty good, and occasionally one can trace the outlines of a Cosby musical signature in the tunes. Guitarist John Scofield gets a lot of good cutting room in four of the pieces, where the tenor sax role is in the sometimes abrasive hands of Odean Pope and David Murray. Cosby also has the cheek to let a different team of players run nearly amok in the free funk marathon "Why Is It I Can Never Find Anything in the Closet (It's Long But It's Alright)"; guitarist Sonny Sharrock can be heard in a particularly delicious freakout against Mark Egan's funky synthed bass and Jack DeJohnette's drums. This is the best of the Cosby jazz albums so far; just don't expect any droll stories about Fat Albert and the gang.
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