Cobb(s), Arnett(e Cleophus)

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Cobb(s), Arnett(e Cleophus)

Cobb(s), Arnett(e Cleophus), jazz tenor saxophonist; b. Houston, Tex., Aug. 10, 1918; d. there, March 24, 1989. He played piano and violin before specializing on tenor sax. His first professional work was with drummer Frank Davis in 1933, subsequently with Chester Boone (1934–36) and Milton Larkin (1936–2). He replaced Illinois Jacquet in the Lionel Hampton band in November 1942 until early 1947, then formed his own band. He was forced by illness to disband in 1948, resumed leading from 1951 until 1956, then was seriously injured in a car crash and spent the rest of his life on crutches. He resumed touring in 1957 and 1958, then returned to Houston and led his own big band there during the late 1950s. In 1960 Cobb managed the El Dorado Club in Houston and continued leading his own band, but long spells in the hospital eliminated touring. In 1973 he appeared at N.Y., Town Hall with fellow saxophonist Illinois Jacquet; this appearance was well-received and led to a renewed career in U.S. clubs and Europe, often with the group The Texas Tenors, which included Jacquet and Buddy Tate. He continued to record and tour right up to his death.

Cobb’s big, fat, vivid tone is a jazz classic. His notes are filled with emotion whether he’s blowing a muscular, up-tempo solo or slowly romancing a ballad. Along with Jacquet, Cobb’s colorful, stomping style defined the early Houston, Tex. tenor sound, a swinging sound equally at home in jazz, soul/blues, or early R&B.


Very Saxy (1959); Smooth Sailing (1959); Party Time (1959); Go Power! (1959); Blow, Arnett, Blow (1959); Blue and Sentimental (1960); Jazz at Town Hall (1973); Again with Milt Buckner (1973); Live in Paris 1974 (197A); Jumpin’ at the Woodside (1974); Wild Man from Texas (1976); Live at Sandy’s!, Vols. 1 & 2 (1978); Arnett Cobb Is Back (1978); Live (1982); Showtime (1987); Tenor Tribute, Vol. 2 (1988); Tenor Tribute, Vol. 1 (1988). L. Hampton: Smooth Sailing.


B. Demeusy, Arnett Cobb, the Wild Man of the Tenor Sax (Basel, Switzerland, 1962).

—John Chilton, Who’s Who of Jazz/Lewis Porter/B. J. Huchtemann