Jimmy Cobb, the 81-year-old drummer for San Francisco State University’s Generations Jazz Band, will be doing an interactive workshop with other band members at SFSU on Saturday to show how jazz can keep your mind young.
What was it like working with Miles Davis? To use one of his own quotes: It was more fun than I ever had with my clothes on.
What has been the highlight of your career? Leaving home to go on the road with the band may be the best. Working with different guys over the years like Wes Montgomery, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Dinah Washington — they’re all highlights. It was a pleasure for me to be around all the major giant jazz stars and even be friends with some of them. Being able to make a living in this profession is wonderful.
How can jazz improve your mind? It has a different effect on everyone. It’s like going out to play golf for some people. It clears the mind. For me, jazz makes me feel good, it makes me want to live and be strong. I can still remember all the people I’ve had an occasion to be around.
Do you think jazz has helped you as you have gotten older? It has probably helped me to get older. You have to be in shape to perform and go to different places, sometimes traveling long distances to play. It keeps you sharp and tells your body that you have to be aware of what you’re doing.