Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Lives of Todd Cochran

Listen while you read, this is the prologue : 

Bobby Hutcherson - 'At The Source" 

Note : If you want the previews to work on this (long) post; make sure you click the post title to open it on a single page. Click play on the previews, they'll start after a short pause. 

One of the reasons that there are seemingly no comprehensive overviews of Todd Cochran's career online is that his musical shifts have been so radical, and so unpredictable, that you'd be hard-pressed to find anyone who's seriously in love with all of the periods of his work. I don't like all of it myself, but in the weeks I've been tracking his career, I've become fascinated with those shifts themselves. I want to look at the spectacular failures alongside the moments of sheer genius, even if my preference for the jazz periods shine through in this eleven chapter history.

This is a post about a life in music of an artist who's confounded expectations of what a jazz artist - or an African-American artist - should do, or be, or become.

Cochran is an artist who's "remade" himself at least five times over a career now spanning more than thirty-five years. He's changed his name nearly as many times, so people lose track of him easily. At the time of originally writing this blog post in 2008, he had a blank website - but in 2014 it's been filled back, and even links back to this post.  It took me three weeks to find out what year he was born in, until finally yesterday I came across a Singapore children's charity concert program from 2004.

The "All Music Guide" thinks he has an "e" on the end of his surname, and made only one album in 1991. Under another of his three names there, they say he "disappeared from view" after 1976.

So let's make him appear ....


'Todd the Prodigy'

Todd Cochran was born on September 3rd, 1951 in San Francisco. His parents were "serious musicians", and seemed to have pointed Todd along the same path from an early age. At three, he was fingering melodies on the piano, at ten, giving classical performances. Significantly, in a later professional bio, he nominates Glenn Gould and Vladimir Ashkenazy as early influences - both were also child prodigies. He received musical training at no less than three institutions - UCLA, University Of San Jose, and the Trinity College of Music in London.

Trinity College of Music

At fifteen, there was something of a rebellion against the confines of the classical order, and he started taking part in jazz performances.

If we were doing his life as an old movie, we'd zoom in on his hands on the piano, watch a fast 16mm collage of growing, cheering crowds as the music starts to swing, and pass through another four years, as the tones of Bobby Hutcherson's "Head On" album begin to seep through, ahead of the edit ...


'Todd's Big Break'

On July 1st, 1971, three days of recording began on Bobby Hutcherson's album "Head On" (WAV - MP3).   Todd Cochran, still just 19 years old, wrote and arranged five out of the seven tracks, with three of them making the album's final tally of four. (though all would be included in the later re-issue).
Others have noted Cochran's Stravinsky influences here - I can hear it particularly in the tonal clusters and woodwind arrangements, and there's clearly some Gil Evans in the relationship between the jazz and classical elements of the structures. Hutcherson had used strings in 1969's "Now" more as orchestral colour and harmonic support, but on this album you've got jazz improvisation played out within classical structures.

The beautiful three-part suite "At the Source" - which hopefully you're listening to from the preview at the top - opens the album with an introduction of melancholy woodwind and muted brass ("Ashes and Rust"). This leads to a cautious, call-and-answer melodic interplay between Hutcherson's vibes and Cochran's reverbed piano, which he gradually builds up into arpeggios over Hutcherson's Steve Reich-like metallic resonances ("Eucalyptus"). Percussion enters for the third section, "Obisdian", as a simple, beautiful melody is passed between and harmonised by Hutcherson, Cochran and saxophonist Harold Land.

The second track "Many Thousands Gone" bursts straight into post-Bitches Brew cacophany, while at the same time some of its disjunctions seem to structurally reference Charles Ives' experimental juxtapositions. James Leary's frenetic bass solo is taken over by Hutcherson's swarthes of marimba and vibes colour. Land's saxaphone and trumpet both take solos, before William Henderson's distorted fender rhodes first mirrors Hutcherson's solo, then brings things down again.

Side 2 opens with Hutcherson's propulsive "Mtume" , and the album closes with Cochran's "Clockwork of the Spirits", which resembles a Herbie Hancock piece set for large ensemble.

The recent re-issue adds three extra tracks. Cochran's "Togoland" and Hutcherson's "Hey Harold" have post-electric-Miles jamming qualities to them with some upfront funk, while Cochran's "Jonathon" once again carries a torch for Hancock's progressions. This is a great album that you should spend some time with.


'Todd goes electric'

John Klemmer - 'Sea of Passion' excerpt

Six weeks later, August 14th, 1971. John Klemmer (tenor sax, echoplex) played a concert at the Kabuki Theatre in San Francisco, supported by Todd Cochran (electric piano), James Leary (bass) and Woody Theus (drums). Two of these live tracks - "Sea Of Passion" and "Last Summer's Spell" - later ended up on Klemmer's album (download) : "Intensity" (1973), the rest of which uses different personnel recorded at a later date.

From what I can gather, this is Cochran's first recorded performance on the rhodes, having just played piano on the Hutcherson sessions. Todd's totally into the groove here - it's as if he'd used "Head On" to purge fixed notions of classical structure - though he naturally retains his sense of colour and surprise in his improvisations.

Interestingly, Klemmer was recording his album "Constant Throb" two days before this, and also five days after this, with a totally different lineup.

Bass player James Leary from the Bobby Hutcherson group played on most of Todd's early recordings, and would go on to compose most of Hutcherson's "Waiting" album in 1976.

Hadley Caliman - 'Quadrivium' excerpt

Cochran's acoustic piano and rhodes work on Hadley Caliman's second Mainstream release (download) :  "Iapetus" (1972) is outstanding, with controlled use of wah-wah and some inspired solos amongst a great group of musicians. The album's suffused with a latin vibe - not "latin jazz", but jazz that references latin rhythm, similar to the sort of merge that was taking place in Carlos Garnett's work. I've put a whole track here, so listen through to Cochran's great solo from 1:26, and get the album from the link above. Recommended album!

No, I don't have these tracks, I just made a cover because I got frustrated ...... sorry ... I've been bothering people all over the world for weeks since I searched through three Bobby Hutcherson sessionographies, and in ONE of them, found an unreleased session.

On May 24th, 1972, at United Artists Studios in Los Angeles, Bobby Hutcherson (vibraphone, marimba) recorded five tracks with Todd Cochran (piano, electric piano), James Leary (bass) and Michael Carvin (drums). The tracks were : "Poem", "Unga", "B's Thang", "Mr X" and "Twenty Five".

In the place where the release details are usually added to the discography entries, it's marked "Rejected by Blue Note". And that's all I know ... so if any of you work for Blue Note, please start a private investigation and get those tapes.

I'd imagine that "Twenty Five" is probably a version of James Leary's composition that he contributed to George Duke's "Inner Source".


'The Birth of Bayeté'



Bayeté - ''Bayeté" excerpt

June 26th 1972. A month after the unreleased Hutcherson session, with Bobby Hutcherson and bassist James Leary still in tow, Todd Cochran recorded his first album "Worlds Around the Sun", having scored a deal with Prestige Records off the back of the success of  "Head On"

Cochran was now going under the african name Bayeté, a word used by the Zulu nation to greet King Chaka (sometimes spelt "Shaka"), regarded as the greatest Zulu warrior and strategist. The actual greeting is “Bayete Nkosi".

The title of the 12 minute opening track "Bayeté (Between Man and God)" would suggest that the idea of new name was to attach a spiritual significance to the music - i.e. that the music itself was the means of communication between man and god.

The track itself starts off with an array of percussive rhythms and counter-rhythms, with James Leary's bass locked to the toms. Bayeté's fender rhodes first completes the rhythm, skates around it, then breaks out to solo for several minutes. The brass and winds enter with chord surges as the rhythm breaks down. They take the melody over some rapid rhythmic changes, then the rhodes passes solo duties first to trumpet (either Oscar Brashear or Mulobo) and on to saxophonist Hadley Caliman. There's an expansive acoustic piano solo from Bayeté, before the brass and winds return in a beautiful composed melodic sequence that harmonically recalls the structures of "At the Source".

Bayeté - 'Eurus' excerpt

"Eurus" is all spacey Rhodes with subtle delay and panned LFOs (that's the "volume pulse" you get with rhodes), with Leary improvising high notes around Thabo Vincar's brushwork, and the brass/wind section coming in and out with the main melody. "It Ain't" is primarily a showcase for Bayete's acoustic piano, with Leary and Vincar getting some solo space at the end. "Njeri" features solos from Bayete, Hutcherson on vibes and Caliman on flute; with the main melody coming from a great combination of flute mixed with flugehorns - Caliman stands out here.

The other two tracks signal the first steps of Bayeté's next career phase. "I'm On It" is a fledgeling rock-funk track, with minimal vocals from Bayeté and a basic verse-chorus structure. He uses really precise wah-wah on both the rhodes and clavinet to make an almost guitar-like sound - the man's got the funk. But he's with the wrong band here - while Leary deftly handles some interesting rhythmic stabs, Vincar plods along with an on-beat snare drum and Caliman seems to lose interest halfway through his sax solo.

Bayeté - 'Free Angela' excerpt

Back to the funk again with "Free Angela (Thoughts ... and all I've got to say)", a tribute to black activist Angela Davis. Davis had been in detention for eighteen months for owning a weapon that had been used in a crime, but had finally been acquitted three weeks before this recording. By the time the album came out, Bayeté had apparently contributed music to Francisco Newman's political documentary "Aint Nobody Slick" (1972), which featured Angela Davis. Newman, a former journalist from San Francisco's KQED Public TV, had also made the documentary "Staggerlee : A Conversation with Bobby Seale, Leader of the Black Panther Party" (1970), filmed while Seale was in jail.The track starts out well with a percussive section. Once again, Bayetés own work is great - an arrangement that jumps in space between percussive wah-rhodes and sudden brass stabs, and a killer distorted clavinet solo - but his bandmates just aren't up to it or seemingly into it - the vocal chorus/chant of "Free Angela" seems forced, and Vincar's drums languish in the wake of Bayeté's funk attack. George Clinton's band are sorely needed. Hutcherson drops a few notes in the middle and then stops. There's a clumsy cross-fade halfway through which brings in a slow clavinet sequence, then another fade brings in a lyrical repetitive variation of some of the previous melodies - it sounds somewhat like the end of a rock opera. It seems possible that this track could have been spliced from three different excerpts he recorded for the film soundtrack.

Here's Todd talking about the album in 2014 : 

A few incomplete experiments aside , "Worlds Around The Sun" is an extraordinary spiritual piece of jazz from a 20 year old who seemingly wanted to flex his muscles in all directions at once.

Click for Bobby Hutcherson's liner notes

01. "It Ain’t (5:54)
02. "Free Angela (Thoughts... And All I’ve Got To Say)" (5:11)
03. "Njeri (Belonging To A Warrior)" (5:18)
04. "I’m On It" (2:55)
05. "Bayeté (Between Man And God)" (11:59)
06. "Eurus (The Southwest Wind)" (6:11)

All tracks composed by Todd T Cochran

piano, fender rhodes, clavinet, vocals - Bayeté
double bass, electric bass, vocals - James Leary III
drums - Thabo Vincar
flute, tenor saxophone - Hadley Caliman
percussion [vibes], marimba - Bobby Hutcherson
soprano saxophone, vocals - Mguanda (Dave Johnson)
trombone - Wayne Wallace
trumpet, flugelhorn, vocals - Mulobo (Frederick Berry) , Oscar Brashear

Prestige Catalogue # PRST 10045
Producer - Bayeté
Co-producer - Capus Hope
Engineer - Skip Shimmin
Artwork By [Design] - Phil Carroll , Tony Lane
Photography - James Tyler
Recorded June 26, 1972


'Let it Take Your mind' excerpt

Three months later - September 18th, 1972, a few weeks after his 21st birthday - Bayete was back in the studio recording his second album "Seeking Other Beauty". There's no bracketed (Todd Cochran) on the cover this time around - now he was Bayeté Umbra Zindiko. "Umbra" means "safe"; and "Zindiko" means "goal".

Everyone from the previous album is gone apart from Mguanda (woodwinds, percussion, vocals) and Mulobo (trumpet, fluglehorn, vocals). This time, Bayeté's got his funk-rock backline in place - Hoza Phillips on bass and Augusta Lee Collins on drums.

Doug Watson from freeform described this album well : "a lethal dose of nasty spacefunk".

Bayeté's got his foot on the wah-wah and/or distortion pedals for the entire album, and essentially transforms both his rhodes and clavinet into hard psych-funk guitars - with the rhodes as rhythm guitar and the clavinet as a screaming lead. Phillips also has his bass through a pedal-controlled extreme distortion that he switches in and out of. It's like Hendrix breaking bread with earlier, rockier Funkadelic over an array of effects pedals, recorded in the shadow of a Miles Davis poster.

The opener "Let It Take Your Mind" is almost like a musical 'tightening' of the previous albums' "Free Angela" - sped up, harder hitting psych-funk, punctuated with group chanting of the title and Hammond B3 organ chords. "The Time Has Come" is a slow, bluesy track with a distant group vocal and jazz "cutaways".

'Think on The People Arise' excerpt

Side One finishes with the twelve minute "Think on, the People Arise; Mulobo; People Arise!!!". Clouds of rhodes and drumrolls lay a bed for Phillip's noise improvisation through distortion and delay pedals. Bayeté and Mguanda tag team the wah-wah pedal for a while, then there's a crossfade to a more organised rock chant section of "The People Arise", before all instruments join to build to a controlled chaos. This is stoner music.

"Don't Need Nobody" is a more organised version of the same thing - could be from the second session two weeks later when everyone's straightened up a bit? An inital vocal chant makes way for five minutes of Bayeté emulating Hendrix with his wah-clavinet, then Mguanda and Mulobo solo through to the end.

'Pruda's Shoes' excerpt

The album finishes with the four-part suite "Pruda's Shoes". Perhaps a nervous Prestige Records executive stuck his head around the corner and asked for a jazz track?
This is mainly a vehicle for Bayeté's virtuoso acoustic piano work. He starts with rolling arpeggios over a simple melodic line from Mguanda's soprano sax. Phillips and Collins join in, more as added texture than backline support. The ensemble breaks down to just Bayeté and Mguanda again - Bayeté's work around Mguanda's simple melody line is complex and beautiful, increasingly so as the melody is developed and the album comes to a close.

The interesting tension here between Bayeté's different musical sides can perhaps be found in a poem he wrote for the back cover :

ESCAPISM / duality -
wondering when
it's going to crack on you.
To blow
is many things. May this piece provide
a statement of
a vast universe,
For you -
the SUN -
a piece of life -
a star in your eyes.

October 1972

01. "Let It Take Your Mind" (2:45)
02. "The Time Has Come" (4:24)
03. "Think On, People Arise; Mulobo; People Arise!!!" (12:55)
04. "Don't Need Nobody" (10:05)
05. "Pruda's Shoes" (10:15)
(i) Duet (ii) Trio (iii) Ensemble (iv) Finale

All tracks written by Todd T Cochran

piano, electric piano, clavinet, vocals, arranged by - Bayeté Umbra Zindiko
electric bass, vocals - Hoza Phillips
drums, percussion - Augusta Lee Collins
soprano saxophone, flute, vocals, percussion - Mguanda
(Dave Johnson)
trumpet, flugelhorn, vocals - Mulobo
(Frederick Berry)

Producer - Bayeté Umbra Zindiko
Engineer - Skip Shimmin
Photography - James Tyler
Prestige Records PRST 10062
Recorded at Fantasy Studios, Berkeley, Cal. on September 18 and October 2, 1972.
Released 1973

'The Stick Up' - from 'The Spook Who Sat By The Door' 

Sometime in the first half of 1973, Bayeté worked with Herbie Hancock on the soundtrack for the film "The Spook Who Sat By The Door", based on Sam Greenlee's famous book.

There's no record of what Bayeté's actual role was - I'm guessing that some of the clavinet playing, at least, is his. A later agent's short bio suggests that Herbie Hancock introduced Bayeté to "electronic keyboards and synthesisers" around this time. Tom O'Grady has suggested to me that Bayeté might appear in the house band in a bar scene - will have to check that!

Herbie Hancock and Todd Cochran - much later

Often lumped in with the blaxploitation films of the time, Ivan Dixon's film was actually a black revolutionary call-to-arms set within a fictional context. Here's a scene. It freaked the distributors out, was withdrawn from theatres, and only recently resurfaced via a DVD re-issue.

The only available bootleg soundtrack seems to be taken from a degenerated optical film mix, still mixed with the effects and dialogue tracks - but grab it from the Blaxploitation Pride link above if you want to check it out.

Following the Hancock connection, on June 28 and September 12, 1973, Bayeté played acoustic piano, rhodes and clavinet on Julian Priester's album "Love, Love" (previously covered in this blog), essentially filling in the Hancock role on this wide-ranging and masterful session. He'd just turned 22.

Mtume - "Yebo" excerpt

February, 1974- Minot Sound Studio, White Plains New York.

The track "Yebo" on Mtume's 3rd album "Rebirth Cycle" has a different lineup to the rest of the album - essentially, it's Miles Davis' electric band from the time - Mtume himself (here on acoustic piano); Pete Cosey (guitar); Michael Henderson (bass); and Al Foster (drums); who are joined by Tawatha (vocals) and Bayeté (rhodes).

Davis' band were in the middle of a gruelling tour schedule, and in February had five dates spread throughout the month, all around the country . A million "miles" from the rest of the deeply spiritual, africanist Mtume album, this is a party funk track that points the way to a different future for Mtume.

If we were to write Todd Cochran's life as a cheap TV movie, this would be a pivotal scene : After the session, we'd have Mtume, Michael Henderson and Bayeté sharing a few beers/joints, talking about how they should get out of the abstract jazz life, and forge new paths to the masses via the power of funk - or even latch on to that new thing called disco. WPIX-FM in New York premiered the first disco radio show in 1974, so perhaps, in our movie, it would be playing in the background ...

While this premonition would soon come true for Mtume and Henderson, Bayeté had other plans first ...


'To be a Rock and Roll Star'

'My Pearl' - Automatic Man 

'Automatic Man' - Automatic Man 

In 1976, the band "Automatic Man" released their self-titled album - progressive space-rock, awash with hard guitars and layered synth textures; with lyrical allusions to space travel and mystical matters on tracks like "Interstellar Tracking Devices" and "Atlantis Rising".

(lead vocals, keyboards), who wrote all of the tracks, apart from sharing credit on two group compositions, was joined by Micheal Shrieve (drums); Pat Thrall (guitar) and Doni Harvey (bass).

L-R Schrieve, Bayeté, Thrall, Harvey

Michael Shrieve had been the drummer with Santana, who had done a live instrumental version of Bayete's "Free Angela" on their "Lotus" album in 1975. He'd then taken part in the "Go" project, led by Japanese percussionist Stomu Yamashta and Steve Winwood, alongside Pat Thrall and the classically-trained Doni Harvey. There's also some a live recording of "Go" here.

This album's something of a mixture of twin-guitar-synth lead rock mixed with a touch of Mahavishnu excess and powerchord thunder, occasionally set in a pop format. Doug Watson criticised "Automatic Man" over at freeform and was subsequently swamped with prog-scorn by prog-fanatics, who have been recently re-discovering this album and making videos for it. So I'll hush my mouth and simply review a section of my favourite evah review, by Tom Karr at "Progressiveworld" :

"The band always seemed to me to be a great approximation of what Yes would’ve sounded like if they were American, and Black. The Anglican church touch of Rick Wakeman, replaced with the gospel touch of Stevie Wonder? The style of Chris Squire exchanged with that of a funkmaster? Hyperbole? Some, I guess, but they are very, very good at what they do."

Although I must say that I enjoyed Tom's review more than the album itself, I think that what his review perhaps shows is that there were (are?) very, very few black people encountered in "progressive rock". All of the fan reviews of this album pull out the Stevie Wonder - James Brown names, yet there's very little of what you could define as "funk" or "soul" in the music itself - if you need to make an "african" connection here (which you don't really need to do just because there are African-Americans in the band), it's in the album's lyrical metaphors of science fiction, which tie directly into the afrofuturist school of science fiction political metaphor used by Sun Ra, George Clinton and others in the 70s and beyond. Bayeté's obvious interest in pan-africanist philosophies and politics from earlier in the decade makes the lyrical content of "Automatic Man" a logical follow-on.

It's notable that Bayeté had, over the two year intervening period, fully embraced creative programming of synthesisers after Hancock had set him off to explore new instruments.

If you want to delve deeper, the album is here, and there are more track previews at their Myspace fansite. The single "My Pearl" saw some chart action, but the band didn't make the impact they had hoped for.

'Give it to me' - Automatic Man 

The second Automatic Man album was "Visitors", released in 1977. Once again all tracks were written by Bayeté. Guitarist Pat Thrall was still aboard the spaceship, but Shrieve and Harvey were replaced by bassist Jerome Rimson (also from the "Go" project) and drummer Glenn Symmonds. The prog folks don't like this album as much as the first , describing it as "more commercial", "too funky", and having an "increase in the soul-funk factor" (this is an assumed negative thing). Mostly, they think it's bad because Michael Shrieve wasn't in it anymore. I like it better than the first one! Doug Watson's description is "just a mediocre shot at mesh funk-rock, although arguably ahead of its time in predicting the ghastly and overblown rock guitar productions of the 80s."

The band moved to London, which became Bayeté's base for a few years. However, once again, the album was not a great success, and the group disbanded.


'Floating in Session World'

After the breakup of "Automatic Man", Bayeté seemed to abandon his own projects for awhile, and spent the remainder of the 70s establishing a career as a studio and live keyboard player. A lot of this work seemed to be with fellow jazz musicians who were moving into fusion and pop/soul areas. At some stage during this period he seemed to drop the "Bayeté" moniker, and once again became Todd Cochran.

In 1976 he was one of the main keyboard players on the album "The Real Thing" by The Real Thing, which contained the #1 UK hit single "You to Me Are Everything". In 1977 he did backing vocals on Alphonso Johnson's "Spellbound".

In 1978 he played keyboards on Peter Gabriel's second album "2", (after which he toured with Gabriel for a few years); Wilding/Bonus' "Pleasure Signals"; and began a long association with Stanley Clarke on the album "Modern Man".

In 1979 he was on Clarke's "I Wanna Play For You", which was produced by Airto; Crusader drummer Stix Hooper's "The World Within"; Airto's "Touching You, Touching Me", and Stanley Turrentine's "Betcha".

Todd also did live work at some stage on the 1970s with people such as Dizzy Gillespie and Rahsaan Roland Kirk.
As his synthesiser programming skills came more to the fore, it looked like he was heading the Mtume disco-jazz production way, but first of all, there was to be one more shot at the rock 'n roll dream ....


'To be a Rock and Roll Star, Pt.2'

P.M - 'You're too Much' excerpt

P.M - 'Children of the air age' excerpt

The "progressive rock" group Emerson, Lake and Palmer stopped working together in 1979.

Drummer Carl Palmer formed a band called "P.M." with Todd Cochran (lead vocals, keyboards); Barry Finnerty (guitar, vocals); and Erik Scott (bass, vocals). They worked together for a year, and in 1980 released an album called "1 P.M.", on which Todd wrote half of the songs, on Arista Records. The group disbanded when Palmer left to form the "supergroup" Asia with members of Yes and King Crimson.

Barry Finnerty says :
"There were some talented people in the band, such as Todd Cochran and John Nitzinger, but it was just the wrong combination, never mind the fact that Carl Palmer himself regarded a "groove" as some kind of ethnic African nonsense that has no place on a set of drums! He really was the antithesis of funkiness! .....We did release one record, "1 P.M.", in Europe. If anyone ever hears it ... my condolences. "

Listening to the previews of these tracks, it's clear that this was an attempt to break into the pop market, with a nod to the odd American translation of post-punk "new wave" of the time - the watered-down, skinny-tie sound of The Cars or The Knack. It seems extraordinary now that Todd thought he could break into the "new wave" market with a band led by a member of Emerson, Lake and Palmer, reviled at the time as the epitome of dinosaur rock legend.


'The 80s Producer'

At this point in our cheap TV movie, we flash back to the fictional 1974 conversation with Mtume and Michael Henderson about the need to break into the disco-funk market. We flash forward to the present, and Mtume and Henderson zoom past in a red sports car filled with champagne, girls and gold records. Todd's brow furrows ... it's time to change again.

Todd was twenty-nine when "P.M" disbanded. He moved back to the USA at the start of the 1980s, settling in Los Angeles, and began work as a producer, arranger, session musician and occasional songwriter. He did hundreds of sessions, but I'll concentrate on his production and writing.

If a pattern can be drawn here, it seems that Todd Cochran's 80s production career had two strands : escorting jazz artists into the synthesised age of fusion; and attempting to revive the careers of soul-funk greats who'd been without a hit for a while.

He only had limited success in both of these endeavours, and as much as I keep looking for him in these albums, it seems that after a classical career, two jazz albums and two rock bands, in his 30s Todd Cochran took a step back into the shadows.

So put on that fluro headband, hit the play button on the Syreeta track below, and let's take a trip through the 80s....

DOWNLOAD TRACK (this will also download a fluro headband to your hard drive) 

1981 : Although Syreeta's Motown album "Set My Love In Motion" was primarily produced by Hal Davis and Ollie Brown, the track "Move It, Do It" was produced by Angelo Bond and William Weatherspoon; written by Bond, Weatherspoon and Todd Cochran; and arranged by Todd Cochran. It was also released as a 12" single with the track "Can't Shake Your Love".

William Weatherspoon had recently dissolved his long-standing Motown writing partnership with James Dean (no, not that one), with whom he'd written "What Becomes of the Broken Hearted". Angelo Bond had made a funk-soul album in 1975 called "Bondage", which I'm quite fond of, grab it from here. He went on to work on the Temptation's "Back To Basics" album in 1983 and co-wrote a few tracks with Norman Whitfield.

'Here today' - Maynard Ferguson - excerpt

1982 : Maynard Ferguson's discofied album "Hollywood", produced by Stanley Clarke, is generally regarded as one of the worst of his career. Todd was assistant producer, played keyboards, did the rhythm arrangements and wrote a track called "Here Today". Yes, it's as bad as the rest of the album ... and what is going on in that cover shot?

'Secret to My Heart' Stanley Clarke - excerpt

1982: Todd played fender rhodes on Stanley Clarke's album "Let Me Know You", Clarke's most RnB album, and wrote a track called "Secret To My Heart". I like Stanley's natural pose on the cover.

'Especially You' - Stix Hooper - excerpt

1982: Todd played keyboards on Stix Hooper's album "Touch the Feeling" and wrote the instrumental opener "Especially You".

'Champions' - Twin Image

1984 : Perhaps in an effort to match the "twin" marketing of RnB duo Twin Image on their only album "Mirror", Capitol Records got Todd to produce Side A, and Sigidi to produce Side B. Each of the producers does two ballads and two uptempo numbers. Both singles came from the Sigidi side, but neither singles nor album fared that well. "Champions" is from Todd's side.

Sigidi was a conductor and co-arranger with the Mizell brothers in the 70s. He wrote Donald Byrd's track "Dominoes" and was the singer on the Blackbyrd's track "Walking in Rhythm". In the 80s he went on to produce several albums by the SOS Band.

'Uptown Strut' - Arthur Blythe

1984 : Avante-garde saxaphonist Arthur Blythe signed to Columbia Records in the 80s, and they made a few attempts to bring him to the masses via crossover productions, something that Todd was getting a name for doing. The album "Put Sunshine In It" , arranged and produced by Todd Cochran, was regaled by jazz critics for its dominant use of synthesisers and drum machines. Soon after this, Blythe returned to more acoustic productions.

'Electrified' - Billy Griffin 

1985 : Former "Miracles" vocalist Billy Griffin had scored a hit in 1983 with "Hold Me Tighter In the Rain". His third album "Systematic" was produced by Todd Cochran and Leon Ware. More uptempo and radio-friendly than it's two predecessors, it nevertheless failed to chart well.

'Fade to Black' - Cheryl Lynn

1985 : Cheryl Lynn never really managed to recapture the success of her 1978 self-titled debut album that contained the hit "Got To Be Real". Her 1985 album "It's Gonna Be Right" was recorded at the end of her tenure with Columbia Records. It was a split affair, with Jimmy Jam / Terry Lewis and Hubert Eaves producing a few tracks each, and Todd Cochran producing four tracks that were written by Lynne herself. One of these, "Fade To Black", was released as a single and reached #85 on the RnB charts.

'No Curfew' - Cheryl Lynn excerpt

1987 : Cheryl Lynn moved to Manhattan Records to record the album "Start Over", in which, according to AMG's Jason Ankeny, "the gelatinous late-Eighties production threatens to swallow her like quicksand". Todd collaborated with Lynn to write the track "No Curfew", which I'd say would have to be considered the low point of his 80s work.

'Monte Carlos Nights' - Grover Washington Jr - excerpt

1987 : Together with Stix Hooper, Todd co-wrote the track "Monte Carlos Nights" on Grover Washington Jr's album "Strawberry Moon".

'Way Out' - Dynasty

1988 : Dynasty were a group created by Leon Sylvers in 1979 on Solar Records. They scored a few early RnB hits, but didn't manage to recapture that success on later releases. Todd arranged and produced much of Dynasty's fifth and final album "Out Of Control", though three others also have production credits.

'Back to Lovin' Again' - Freddie Hubbard - excerpt

1989 : Todd seemed to be fully in charge of Freddie Hubbard's "Times Are Changing" - he was producer, arranger, keyboard player, drum programmer, and wrote four of the seven tracks.
Other guests are Stix Hooper, Stanley Clarke, percussionist Munyango Jackson, and Michael Shrieve on electronic percussion.

'Through the Moving Window' - Juan Martin -  excerpt

1990 : Juan Martin's "Through the Moving Window" mixes flamenco guitar with some new age textures. Todd produced and arranged the album, and wrote several tracks.


Other 80s session work by Todd Cochran, usually keyboards and/or synth programming :
Aretha Franklin - "Aretha" (1980); Gene Page - "Love Starts After Dark"; Silk - "Fuse One" (1981); Rodney Franklin - "Learning to Love" (1982); Stanley Turrentine - "Home Again" (1983); Teena Marie - "Robbery" (1983); Rodney Franklin - "Marathon" (1984); Stanley Clarke - "Time Exposure" (1984); Paulinho Da Costa - "Sunrise" (1984); George Howard – "Dancing in the sun" (1985); George Howard – "Love will Follow" (1986); Howard Hewett - “I Commit to Love” (1986).

If you've got this far, and have had enough of the synthesisers, well it seems that Todd had as well ... yes folks, it's time to leave the 80s behind (phew!)


'Out From the Shadows'



"A New and Old Poem" - Todd Cochran

"People In The Night" - Todd Cochran

In 1991, Todd Cochran turned forty, and recorded his third solo album "Todd". It's an acoustic jazz album, with one vocal track, recorded live to stereo tape master with no overdubs.

Todd's on acoustic piano, joined by James Leary on bass (for the first time since "Worlds around the Sun" nineteen years before); Clyde Cameron on drums; Michael O'Neill on guitar; and Munyungo Jackson on percussion (who'd played with him on the 1989 Freddie Hubbard album).

While this is not Todd's best jazz work, there's an appealing, intimate feeling from the nature of the live recording - you can feel the room and the presence of the musicians. Leary's double bass work is great, and Jackson's subtle percussion adds to things. I end to prefer the simpler, sparser tracks like the piano solo "A New And Old Poem".

Vinyl cover, sometimes with small pic attached (see brown one above)

This album was the first in a series of audiophile recordings on Vital Records - James Leary went on to release two albums as part of the same series - one with five bass players! - and Munyungo Jackson did one as well, which Cochran played on.

"Todd" was released on a limited vinyl series (496 copies) of two 45rpm albums - there's a hopeful guy on ebay who lists one for $145 every week. The entire series of 17 CDs can be purchased on ebay here for $100, including one by "Brotherhood of Breath" which might get a few people here going. Finally, there are a few cheap second-hand copies of this CD on Amazon, I had a problem with my credit card so big THANKS to Ish for purchasing, ripping and uploading this.

alternate CD cover from a different issue

The liner notes are full of obsessive audiophile notes, so you can have a look at those in the download. There are also liner notes from Todd talking about each track.


01 . "Behind the Mask" (Cochran)
"Chelsea Bridge" (Billy Strayhorn)
"A New and Old Poem" (Cochran)
"Brilliant Corners" (Thelonius Monk)
"The River Bends" (Cochran)
"Alanna's Song"
"Lights Out"
"People In the Night"
"Lady M"
"Up Jumped Spring" (Freddie Hubbard)


Todd Cochran - piano, vocals
James Leary
- bassClyde Cameron - drumsMichael O'Neill - guitarMunyungo Jackson - percussion


Recorded at VTL Studio, Chino, California 1991Produced and engineered by David Manley
Specialist piano technician - Jim Christopher
Vital Records 001
Vital Records is a division of Vacuum Tube Logic of America
This album is dedicated to my daughter Alanna Natasha and all the people who love her.
Thanks to James and CC, Michael and
Munyungo for your very creative contributions to this recording.


'1990s : Dawn of the New Age'

In the 1990s, Todd becomes more elusive to the researcher. He owned a recording studio in Los Angeles called "The Gallery". His Kawai piano was sampled for a well-known sampler called the Ensoniq EPS-16, which I used to own - this makes me wonder whether I recorded anything in the 90s "using" Todd's piano ...

In the wake of the release of the "Todd" album, he began to focus more on the acoustic piano again, performing live in clubs, concerts and at the Monterey Jazz festival. He began to give lectures and master classes at Stanford University, Berkeley and other institutions.

'What Looks Good On The Outside' - Animal Logic 

In 1991 he played on several tracks on "Animal Logic II", the 2nd album from a project by Stanley Clarke and Police drummer Stewart Copeland, and co-wrote the track "What Looks Good on the Outside" with singer/guitarist Deborah Holland.

'Magic Ring' - Juan Carlos Quintero

'The Promise' - Juan Carlos Quintero

In 1992 he produced and arranged the album "Through the Winds" for latin-jazz guitarist Juan Carlos Quintero, writing several tracks as well, including a vocal on "The Promise". Most of the musicians from the "Todd" album were on this. Like the Juan Martin album from 1990, this was heading into new age territory ....

He's also on Stanley Clarke's 1993 album "East River Drive" and Joan Armatrading's "What's Inside" from 1995.

On October 30th, 1998, he gave a free outdoor concert in Los Angeles as part of the "Playboy Jazz Festival", alongside the Thelonious Monk Institute Student Band.

Sometime in the late 90s, he signed to the new-age label Windham Hill, who were at the time expanding their catalogue from folk-based music to include some jazz artists like Todd and Tom Scott. In 1998 he contributed a track called "She Is Gentle Rain" to an album called "Melrose Place Jazz", to be marketed with the then-popular TV soap.

'She Is Gentle Rain' - Todd Cochran

Information about his album releases at Windham Hill is sparse, particularly since the dissolution of the company. A later professional bio names an album called "Root Bohemia", which seemingly has no other references on the internet. AMG names an album from 2000 called "Crosswinds", which also proves to be elusive.

However, here are two tracks from these which have since been included on smooth jazz compilations :

'A Voice In the Forest' - Todd Cochran

'Secret Places' - Todd Cochran


'21st Century composer'

Since the turn of the century, Todd Cochran has been primarily establishing himself as a film composer, as well as re-engaging with classical composition, in effect coming full circle. (Does this mean we get more brilliant whacked-out funky rhodes jazz next??)

During the 90s, he had worked closely with Stanley Clarke on many film soundtracks for which Clarke was composer, and alongside Clarke had composed some of the music for the animated TV series "Waynehead", produced by Damon Wayans in 1996-97.

In 1999 Todd did "additional music arrangements" on Norman Jewison's "The Hurricane" , starring Denzel Washington.

In 2000 he signed with Primal Scream, a composer's agency, and wrote "period music" for the game "Return to Castle Wolfenstein".

His first full soundtrack was Doug McHenry's TV movie "Keep the Faith, Baby" from 2002, a portrait of the controversial black senator Adam Clayton Powell.

From 2002-2003 he was a composer-in-residence at the Crossroads School in Los Angeles, as part of 'The Commission Project".

On February 25, 2003, he took part in an event called "A Celebration of Black History and Labor" at Tacoma's Pantages Theatre, which featured speakers such like Rev. Al Sharpton. Todd and singer Alvin Chea (from gospel group "Take 6") perfomed "A Tribute to Black Composers: Billy Strayhorn, Duke Ellington, Marion Cook, Quincy Jones, James Weldon Johnson and Charlie Parker."


He composed a "piece for 3 pianos" that was to have premiered in September 2003. At this time he said "“Film scoring is becoming more and more interesting and rewarding to me and it feels like a natural fit. I’m very excited about the future.”

His suite for piano quintet "Tales Of The Sundial", premiered in Singapore in May 2004. Details about that can be found in a pdf program here (right click). Other recent classical works include “Eternity and love”, a flute and string quartet, and “The Shape of water”, a tone poem for piano and string orchestra.

In 2004 he composed the music for "Woman Thou Art Loosed", an adaptation of Bishop T.D. Jakes' self-help novel, chronciling a woman's struggle to come to terms with her legacy of abuse, addiction and poverty. it won the Best Film Award at the “American Black Film Festival”.

When asked how we went about writing music for a christian story, Todd said "The fact that there's a Christian message in there didn't change my approach at all," Cochran explains. "I got involved in the storytelling, which is basically about hidden truths coming to light. ... And musically, I think a lot of old boundaries have disappeared. What used to be church music has crossed into pop and jazz, and what used to be outside the church is now celebrated inside. Art is inclusive, and these kinds of projects reflect that."

On February 18th, 2005 a film called "The Black Composers" premiered at the Pantages Theater in Tacoma, and the festivities included a performance by the all-star trio of Hubert Laws (flute), Bennie Maupin (reeds) and Todd Cochran (piano). Four days later the three performed again at an event called "A Celebration of Black History - Women And Labor".

"Missing Miles"

In 2006, Robert L. Watt, Assistant Principal French horn with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, commissioned Todd Cochran to write a musical composition in memory of Miles Davis. This resulted in a piece called “Missing Miles” – a suite for horn and piano :

Film director Kim Bass made a thirteen minute film, also called "Missing Miles", which chronicled the creation of the composition and a performance of the work. The film was shown at the Pan African Film and Arts Festival. There used to be a preview there but it's gone.

In 2007, Todd scored the film "Love and Other Four-Letter Words", a tale of a Chicago talk show host who fakes her own wedding to please her dying grandmother.

L-R Composer Kurt Farquhar, AASC Co Chairs Van Hayden, Millicent Shelton and Carl Weathers (moderator), composers Patrice Rushen, Samm Brown, Gregory Smith and Todd Cochran (brown jacket) and AASC member Abdul Malik AbbottPhoto above : On Monday, April 2, 2007, the DGA’s (Directors Guild of America) African American Steering Committee (AASC) presented A Conversation with African American Composers as an addendum to its monthly meeting in the Boardroom of the Guild’s Los Angeles Headquarters.

On August 6th 2007, Todd premiered his 17 minute solo piano work "The Secret Gardener" at an event called "Voices of Hollywood, Vol.2” , held at the Beverly Hills Presbyterian Church as part of the Beverly Hills International Music Festival. The Film Music Society reviewed it as "sometimes dramatic".

In 2008, Todd wrote the score for "The Lena Baker Story", "A chronicle of the life of Lena Baker, the first woman to be sent to the electric chair in Georgia for the murder of her employer, who forced her into sexual slavery". Here's a trailer with some of Todd's music.

Todd Cochran at the Atlanta Film Festival, April 10th, 2008

There's an interesting article written by Sam Brown III in a Feb 2007 issue of "Film Music Magazine" called "Ebony and Ivory: The Door Only Swings One Way", which focuses on how black composers often only get offered "black" films, something that certainly seems to be the case with Todd Cochran, although his composing career seems to be going well.

In the article, Todd says he finds it amazing that "two people can go through the same training – the same schools – and reach the same level of ability, and as soon as they step out of the schools, (and come to Hollywood) one is a black composer, and the other is just a composer ... unfortunately the need for African American film composers to deconstruct the existing stereotypes of musical aesthetic limitations persists.”

Perhaps Todd Cochran's life itself can be seen as having played a significant role in that process of deconstruction.

Todd Cochran is 57.



2014 : It's now six years since I wrote this post. Todd Cochran is now 63.

Here's a 2014 jazz version of "It Ain't" from 'Worlds Around The Sun', which he recorded earlier this year with Courtney D. Jones on trumpet :

And here he is earlier this year discussing his life, and music that has influenced him : 

Rock N' Roll Stories: Todd Cochran from KLCS on Vimeo.



Extra, extra special thanks to
Ish, Burning Blue Soul, Bacoso, Reza, Katonah and Heiku for putting up with my relentless emails and requests in regard to this post. You guys are really the best.

Vinyl rips of "Worlds Around The Sun" and "Seeking Other Beauty" by Bacoso, first posted at "Orgy In Rhythm".

CD rip of "Todd" by Ish.

Thanks to Google, shout outs to the dentist, the lawyer, the podcasting guru and the horticulturalist.

Album blog links in this post go to :

Yorubajazz, My Jazz World, My Favourite Sound, Frisian's Other Favourites, Blaxploitation Pride, Sho (Jam-Music/ Cinema/Foto), Nothing Is v 2.0, Ile Oxumaré, Blak’s Lair, We Got Records, Rocksession, Blog dos Foristas, Spinato’s Musicpills, Som Mutante, Will For All, Blogsportsoul, The Music Jockey, mp3pimp la vitrola, jazz-rock-fusion-guitar, la magie de la funk, beeQ, RnB_quietstorm, PassTheFeelingOn, Psychedelic Hip Hop, Static Collaborative, Blues & Cats, tuttsi fruttsi icecream, Lágrima Psicodélica, Portal Du Funk, Here only Good Music For All, BaixoAkiDownloads and Musicas de todos os tempos. Thanks to Katonah for the "Iapetus" upload.

Please thank and support these bloggers if you click through and download.

If links go dead, please let me know so I can keep the page current.

Your comments are welcome and encourage me to keep writing and posting. 


Anonymous said...

Simon, this is a hell of a history lesson, one of the best on a musician I've ever seen at one shot on a blog %^)

thanks for the albums as well!

Reza said...

Amazing research , just makes me want to relisten to all the albums again
Thanks Simon

Burningbluesoul said...


If you don't get an invitation from Cochran to write his biography, then something is terribly wrong. Thank you for all of the obsessive hard work you put into thhis man's strange and fascinating story on record. It's hard to be lieve you could outdo yourself, but man, you DID!!!!!!! This is just incredible.

Anonymous said...

Jeez, that's one helluva post, Simon! :¬)
Ambitious to say the least...and a fantastic voyage in music history!

Thanks for the lesson, Simon!


soulbrotha said...

Simon, you did it again. I will have to sit with this on the weekend and digest it all. Awesome job!

ish said...

I wasn't gonna read this til I got home but it sucked me right in. If I get fired I'm giving them your email address. Anyway, wow. Not only do you get a bunch of cool (and not so cool--bad, bad 80s!!) free music but a wealth of info. Even liner note scrounger that I am I learned a lot. The connections and timelines you're drawing here are really interesting. Excellent work.

I wonder what he thinks, today, about his Africanist turn in the 1970s, and I guess that just melted away when the eighties and its Reagan nightmare demoralized progressive culture....

Simon666 said...

Thanks for the nice comments guys, it means a lot to me to see five blogger heavyweights like yourselves get into this - so I can feel comfortable downloading another 10GB from YOU lol :)

Ish - I don't know what he thinks about that now, but a few thoughts from him (writing a few weeks back) on America's place in the world here.

Poor Todd, he must be worried that I'm going to go through his garbage bins next lol

Unknown said...

Simon - thanks for a great article on Todd. He has always been a great inspiration for me; the Rhodes solo and the composition of 'Eurus' itself blew me away when I first heard it. I know that the back cover of 'Worlds' provides the Trinity College info since I remember reading mine - but that's surely inaccurate somehow, since Trinity College of Music exists in London but I'm absolutely sure it's not affiliated with Oxford University!!
And finally, I'll paraphrase here what I've e-mailed you about the 'Spook' bootleg that everybody believes is the real deal. In short - anybody who thinks they now own the real soundtrack should get the DVD of the film. And throw that horrible bootleg away!!
The Spook bootleg currently circulating is an abomination. I can tell you exactly where the audio comes from - I'm pretty sure most of it was lifted straight from the audio of a VHS tape (because that's what I used to have the film on). Then some half-wit has realised that 'The Spook' then became Actual Proof, so they have a 4 minute excerpt taken directly from a CD of Thrust. And faded out!! Not even edited. And the very worst thing of all - is that the title theme was lifted straight from the compilation 'Soul Of Science' (compiled by Kirk Degiorgio and Ian O'Brien), without permission. It's easily recognised because I play keyboards for Kirk and early on when we worked together he told me that the record pressers had made a mistake mastering the Spook theme - you can hear the buzzing on the flute playing the melody. It was originally taken from the 'Herbie demonstrates..' Rhodes flexidisc, which in turn, was an excerpt of the original 12 minute recording (which was one of 8 tracks slated for release on 'Headhunters'). That's why side B of the flexidisc has Harvey Mason on drums playing 'The Spook', whilst the Rhodes demonstrations on side A feature Gaylord Birch on drums (I believe) - it's because side B was lifted from the rejected recording sessions.
I haven't watched 'The Spook' recently, so if anybody has the film to hand, hopefully they can watch the bar scene and check if it was Todd Cochran playing with the house band in the background.
Hope that helps,
Tom O'Grady

Ericson said...

Thak you.

Obrigado por colocar o link do meu blog em seu post Simon666.

Sinto-me realmente honrado em poder colaborar.




Simon666 said...

Hi Tom -
Thanks for the details, hopefully we one day get a real "Spook" soundtrack. I'll take your word over Bobby Hutcherson's on the Oxford thing since you're from the UK and he's not, so have removed the ref.

Ericson -
thanks for your comment, i think you got your link wrong, should be :

beequeen said...

Really appreciate your passion here. You made me want to listen more to his works.
Based on his write up in IDKIT , just wondering what did he experience in Singapore as he seememed to be enlightened.

Warm regards !

cheeba said...

Incredible story, Simon! I have most of the records until the change to Bayete and I never looked into him at all. Fascinating read.

I pulled the Aretha Franklin LP and no production credits for him whatsoever. His only credits were for Synthesizer Programming on "What a Fool Believes" and "Can't Turn You Loose" which were both produced by Arif Mardin at Atlantic Studios, so he likely played his role in overdubbing.

Simon666 said...

Thanks for checking it Cheeba, as a result I've shifted the Aretha album down into the "other session work" section at the base of the 80s chapter - which means the section gets to start with the Syreeta track which is more "his".

btw I've added linked up several more albums and ideas in the post, including some in the "Automatic Man" section where I talked about the relationship between music and science fiction ...

Now, if anyone wants to check another thing : Todd's involved somehow in a track on the 1984 "Footloose" soundtrack. I've been able to ascertain that he didn't actually produce anything on it, although he's listed as a producer in a few places, but I would like to know which track he played on.

i KNOW one of you has the vinyl for "Footloose" hanging about, own up! You can say it's your sister's copy or something :)

Art Simon said...

That's got to be the best post I've read! Really great work, a fascinating history of a difficult, and seemingly disconnected body of work. Great Stuff! Thanks so much!

vesper said...

Shall we set up some sort of blog awards for the most comprehensive or contributing post???? This one would be the indisputed contender!!!

katonah said...

I've read through this post about 3 or 4 times now, and i am hugely impressed.
Many many thanks.
Nice to see james leary receiving some recognition for his efforts. Waiting, is a big favourite of mine with "prime thought" probably being responsible for me getting into all this music.
Head on, world's around the sun and love love, are simply must haves.
mind you, rebirth cycle is pretty special.
he really did work on some heavy gears ....

blackclassical said...

bloody hell, are you writing a book si? deserves an award for post of the year ;)

Gianni aka Cesare Barbetta said...

wow, wonderful simon!
thanks again!
your blog makes me happy every time I visit it!

Gabriel said...

Formidable post, Simon. Thanks for the effort. Fascinating reading. Helluva career.

swboy said...

What a great job you've done here.
This could easily be turned into a profile for Downbeat magazine (or something similar) Its especially interesting to hear how a jazz musician moves into other areas and musics. That's an education for a reader even if Todd Cochran
is not as well known as some other folks.

Q said...


I never been here before! I did not know you had a blog, This place is crazy hot. I love what you do here!

I linked you up at my blog.

Simon666 said...

Thanks for the comments guys ...
Chris! Good to see you here. Thanks for the linkup.

culov said...

i havent heard any of these albums except the herbie hancock one, so thank you for putting them all in one place. this has got to be the most wonderfully researched post on blogspot. for real, your work is appereciated more than you can imagine!!

el goog said...

Simon, my vote's for you.
You are really really GREAT.

e lgoog

johnv said...

Simon--just let me echo the thoughts of others on this mind-bogglingly thorough and informative post. I can't see how you will be able to top this one, but I have a feeling that you will.

Keep up the great, great work.

Djalma said...

Man, this article sucked me right in! I mean, I couldn't stop reading! Amazing work Simon!
I really appreciate all the hard work you've put into this... Peace bro...


Phantom Screed said...

Excellent job on a fascinating article... thank you very much for putting this together, your efforts are really appreciated.

il angelo said...

Gripping from start to finish. So many connections, have you left any pebble upturned?
Even if I know some of the records, it will take me a long time to digest. Tremendous stuff.

Miles said...

damn, simon! what can i say? you've done one hell of a job with this post! in a short period of time, you've assembled one outstanding site; focused, well written, extremely informative, and above all, musical and from the heart.

my thanks to you on behalf of jazz music lovers everywhere. 'never enough rhodes' is rapidly becoming a 'must have' resource.

my best to you!

kizza said...

WOW! Dude, you are just too much!
I can't believe how much work you've put into this post!
Thanks for your tireless efforts! It is greatly appreciated!

Ms.BeatJunkie!!! said...

WOW!!!! and WOOOW!!! for you to take all the time to put into this education....Ok now you are most def my fav blog!!!

Anonymous said...

oh my god, this is the most work ive ever seen put into a post..its crazy....much appreciated...u put HARD work into this!!! I got this "worlds around the sun" album, and i liked it, mostly i was impressed with the hard druming, especially on Free Angela obviously ; ) Hope on the 2nd album from Bayete, the drums are as fat as on the 1st. thanky u

basso said...

Hi Simon,

I have slept on the whole blogosphere for quite some time and - wow - it really exploded. This one place here especially. I was really blown away by your work. This is science, man! Utmost respect!

Kevin said...

Fantastic work. Many thanks for the hard work.

Joe said...

This is an amazing read about an exceptional talent, and you are a fascinating writer. I've never met or seen Todd perform, but I have followed his work since the early 70's (remaining a hardcore Automatic Man disciple to this day). This article was like reading a letter from (or about) a long lost friend. Thanks, God bless you.

Kevin said...


Thanks a lot for bringing a new artist to my attention! I am really eager to hear Seeking Other Beauty based on your vivid description. You have one of the most thourough, well researched blogs out there. Keep up the good work!



taro nombei said...

FInally I've set aside enough time to go through this amazing post from start to finish. It' so thorough I'm blown away by all the research/info/links you've dug up about an artist I only knew as a sideman on other people's albums. Besides the Bayete albums, I'm loving Priester's Love Love too (but I'm going to leave the rock/fusion sh*t till I'm feeling really adventurous...)
Anyway, this is GREATLY appreciated. Thanks!

Simon666 said...

hi guys,
Thanks for all the comments!

I'm deep in my own crates here fixing up dead links - this is what happens when I link to 1000s of blogs and then they disappear ..... and this post is of course the most extreme one ...

Anyway, if any of you missed Bobby Hutcherson's "Head On", the first link, I've now added a new blog link. Great album and not to be missed :)

guitarmusic4u said...

Hello Simon,

I went to high school with Todd, Lowell High School, and gave him my treasured Memphis Slim album, 'No Strain' because he was such a inspiringly nice person and played so well way back then. He told me that modes, the Dorian Mode, had so much music in it that I should get into it. I had played guitar for some years already and wanted to grow badly. I asked Todd to play at a little church/community center and he brought a quartet that really touched me with sounds and feelings that have stayed with me until this day. I still play and live in Paris, but I've been looking for some real information about Todd's career after the early seventies. Thank you so much for this great tag-a-long biography. Peace, Goodness and Blessings to your awareness!!

Simon666 said...

Hi guitarmusic4u -
Thanks for your story, and glad that you enjoyed the post!

Simon666 said...

New link added within post to Alphonso Johnson's "Spellbound" (1977)

Simon666 said...

Pleased to say that we've finally got a link in the Todd Cochran post to the second Automatic Man album "Visitors", which I'd only ever heard short previews of when writing this post. Also, a new link for the first "Automatic Man" album, which had gone dead.

Captain Beyond said...

Very well researched, Simon! I actually got into Cochran via the Stomu Yamash'ta GO project, to Automatic Man, to Bayete. Perhaps I'm backward, but I've liked it all so far! And thanks for putting his timeline into context!

Simon666 said...

Hi Captain Beyond -
Glad to know that people are still digging down here, and thanks for your comment.

Simon666 said...

The blog containing John Klemmer's "Intensity" (1973) had gone dead, so I've re-upped the album (see post). It's only 160kbps, but a friend may be ripping a better version at some stage.

Franx said...

Really, really incredible bio. Knew Bayete from Santana's cover of 'Free Angela'. Interesting to see his links with Shrieve and Patrice Rushen who went out on the road with Carlos and Wayne Shorter 20 years ago.

Sun Ira said...

Simon, Allow me to add my thanks with your many others. This is tremendous work that conveys the happy/sad story of this talented artist struggling to find a way to express his talents within a system not necessarily designed for self-fulfillment. I too will be downloading and re-listening.

Simon666 said...

Thanks for your comments, Franx and Sun Ira :)

New addition to the 80s session work section :

Stanley Clarke - "Time Exposure" (1984), ft. Todd Cochran on keyboards :


Anonymous said...

This is simply amazing, the klemmers album and two bayete´s, loving them!!

Simon666 said...

You're welcome. I also just fixed the link for John Klemmer's "Constant Throb"

Anonymous said...

A brilliant account - maximum kudos for all your hard work- Anyone who blogs will surely appreciate the amount of toil that has gone into this..you should be very proud .....

Amanda and SuperAmanda™ said...

Excellent writing. I remember Todd Cochran/Bayete as my father produced the first AM album. I was a toddler but remember. So many people around the world on You Tube respect and revere Todd's work and Automatic Man, they wonder where he is, I will pass this great blog on to them. Flickering subliminally in music is an awesome place to be. You should be proud of such great music writing.

And you are correct when raise the issue of the world not being ready for a band of white and black musicians playing prog-space rock.
I'm actually just listening to the first AM album for the first time this week. It's a masterpiece.

Another blogger has the whole first album up:


All my best to you,

Amanda CasaBianca Whelan

Simon666 said...

thanks for your comments Amanda :)

Amanda and SuperAmanda™ said...

You too Simon. I'm passing your blog on to many; it is easily one of, if not thee best music blo on the net. Meticulous research and publishing is very appreciated!

If you have a chance, please visit


as you are a history teacher than you may be interested in our np which has worked to keep another unjustifiably obscured artist before the public. We restructured Paul Robeson's wikipedia page as well.

All my best!

martin james said...

Thanks Simon , great work .Bayete was fantastic on the Automic man albums they even played live in 1976 in Arnhem in the Netherlands 25 km from my place .

Thanks from a Santana and Bayete fan Martin james

Simon666 said...

you're welcome martin :)

Dezo Williams said...

Great Blog Bro. I just spent about an hour reading and diggin' on the music of this Brother Todd. I heard "Let It Take Your Mind" on a Madlib mixtape and wanted to see if I could find anything on the Brother. I can't even finish it tonight because I can barely keep my eyes open, but I can't wait to continue tomorrow. God Bless You Brother, you worked really hard on this and I appreciate it.

Dennis Dezo Williams
Facebook: Dennis Dezo Williams
email: DezoWilliams@musician.org

Simon666 said...

Thanks Dezo, really glad people still enjoy this :)

Anonymous said...

wonderful post. i learned much about Mr. Cochran.

"Seeking Other Beauty" is one of my favorite LPs--so freaky and funky.

i did not realize he was part of Automatic Man. i have their first LP. i'll have to give it another shot.

Anonymous said...

I met COCHRAN as BAYETE on AUTOMATIC MAN. I was amazed by his inteligent use of SYNTHS and its registers and Rock and Fusion. Synths are now "classic" instruments.I would loved he did this again. Would you TODD? Pleeeese? You did genius music! Thanx for beign part of AM.

Anonymous said...

I just saw Hope & Redemption: The Lena Baker story last night. It moved me to tears. I have been looking all over the web to see if the soundtrack is available to no avail & also on youtube. Can you tell me how in the world I can get my hands on the absolutely amazing soundtrack of Mr. Cochran? I would be eternally grateful. Thanks so much.

Simon666 said...

Hi anonymous -
I looked around for a soundtrack at the time of writing this post, and looked around again now, but there does not seem to be a soundtrack for that TV movie ...

dbasskin said...

This is an extraordinary site. My thanks to you for putting so much effort into it - there are no other comparable resources on Todd Cochran, so this is very much appreciated. I only know his work from the "Todd" CD on Vital and I think it's extraordinary.

Just one comment on your site - the picture near the start, after you mention that Todd studied in London, is not the Trinity College of Music. It's the Royal Naval Hopsital, Greenwich, by Sir Christopher Wren. It's one of the most famous buildings in England, but it has nothing to do with Trinity College. That institution (http://www.trinitycollege.co.uk) is located on the Albert Embankment in Central London. Greenwich is approximately 15 miles east of there.

Simon666 said...

Thanks for your help dbasskin ... hopefully the picture I've replaced it with is the correct building :)

GeeeFlat said...

Shiiieeeeeeeet. I haven' been able to hear the previews ( broken links?) and I only have a couple of the records mentioned (and definitely not the Footloose LP :) ), yet I have been passionately absorbed by your account of this 'transversal' story of one of the unsung heroes of great music. From album to album, and music style to music style the reader is hooked on to what is going to happen next and what todd will be capable of. Fan-tas-tic Monster Post. If you're ever in London, the beer is on me! What a career. What a story. What a musician.


Unknown said...

Amazing insight! I am an early-jazz-fusion fanatic, and these are great gems that I can't wait to get my hands on. Can you fix some of the links? Especially the Connors/Bartz/Henderson Live at Nemu Jazz Inn, Bobby Hutcherson's Head On, and Hadley Caliman's Iapetus? I have been able to get the others for the most part. Thank you so much! It is good to know that good music never dies.

Simon666 said...

Thanks Geeeflat and Jacob Burbank for your comments :)

Jacob, I've replaced the link for "Head On", and will re-up the others later when I'm at a faster internet connection, as there don't seem to be alternatives online.

Simon666 said...

OK Jacob - "Head On"; John Klemmer's "Intensity" (worth checking) and "Iapetus" are all replaced.

Scraps said...

My god.


Anonymous said...

What a great lesson.
Thanx for sharring the knolwedge.
I don't like all what he did, but the perspective is amazing.

Anonymous said...

"Worlds Around the Sun," Todd's first album, has just been re-released on CD as of mid March, 2014. Check it out!

Unknown said...

I was a student at san jose state 70-74. Todd was there for a while when I was there; we were both piano majors. Except that he was great, i was mediocre on my finest days...one night u heard this insanely complex, beautifil music coming from one of the crappy practice room uprights. Peeked through the porthole, and there was 19 year old Todd kicking ass.

Wondered what has up to, did a random internet search and found this site. Great research

Simon666 said...

Great story Dave, thanks :)

Anonymous said...

So glad you got back to your blog, this is a great story filled with great music.

Anonymous said...

Hi Simon

Great article, fantastic piece of research.

I just came upon Todd/Bayete via the recent Worlds Around The Sun reissue. an As an infrequent visitor to your blog over the years, I must have missed out on earlier mentions. Anyway, great blog - I appreciate the effort you've put in to it.

Many thanks


Simon666 said...

thanks muzag!

MrBill said...

Great post Simon! My path here is a little convoluted. It starts with Pat Travers' live album "Go For What You Know", a great hard rock album that I bought when it first came out. Pat Thrall was the second guitarist and I really liked his work. Checking him out led me to Automatic Man and I picked up "Visitors" in a used record store. Not exactly my cup of tea but not bad; the band was led by some dude named Bayete who I'd never heard of before or since. Fast forward to today - I'm idly cruising the web and I run across a reference to Bayete - I google him, discover he's Todd Cochran, and am led to this blog, which I've visited many times, but never saw this post until now. Anyway, I've now downloaded the "Todd" album and will check it out; I'll also dig into my collection and pull out "Visitors" which I'm pretty sure I still have. Thank you, and Merry Christmas!

Simon666 said...

Thanks MrBill!
The album of his to check is really "Worlds Around the Sun" - I noticed that the link had died, so I've just fixed it up.

MrBill said...

Thanks for the recommendation, Simon! I'll definitely give it a listen (just DL'd it).

mgconlan said...

I'd just reminded myself of the existence of the music via doing my own digital dub of a cassette copy I had of Bobby Hutcherson's "Head On." I bought both that album and Bayeté's own "Worlds Around the Sun" when they were knew, and in early 1972 at the Lion's Share in San Anselmo, California I saw the Hutcherson-Bayeté Quartet that did those mysterious unreleased Blue Note recordings perform live (and they were overwhelming!). Thanks for the info and especially for the knowledge that Todd Cochran a.k.a. Bayeté is still alive and active in music!

Unknown said...

Time to write another chapter - Todd released an acoustic piano trio album this week on Sunnyside Records. Check out my two part interview with him on my podcast "Straight No Chaser - A Jazz Show."



rev.b said...

Todd came to mind the other day. In the course researchinghim I came across your blog, which I have visited many times over the years. I'm amazing so many of the links are still active after all these years. Thank you for keeping NER up and available. Even though it's not that active, it's still a great resource. I hopr you're doing well.