Todd Cochran is a keyboardist who has been a noted sideman for over 40 years. He has provided support for such diverse artists as John Klemmer, Bobby Hutcherson, Peter Gabriel, Stanley Turrentine, Freddie Hubbard, and Aretha Franklin. Such was not always the case, however.
The year 1972 was very different musically and politically from what preceded and followed it. The summer of love and Woodstock were in the rear view mirror, political awareness was on the rise, and the Vietnam War was expanding. Music was moving in a harder edged direction as many lyrics explored the world’s problems.
Enter Todd Cochran, who was recording under the name Bayete. In 1972 he released the only two album of his career which bears his name. Worlds Around The Sun and Seeking Other Beauty were originally released on the Prestige label. Now for the first time Worlds Around The Sun has been issued on CD along with two previously unreleased bonus tracks from the same sessions.
His Bayete persona was very much a product of time and location. San Francisco and the west coast was a center of protest. He combined African Rhythms and American funk into his jazz music. His keyboard play was very close to an avant garde approach that didn’t quite leave jazz behind. When you place it all in the historical context of black power and an exploration of his heritage, you have both an album of adventurous music and a historical document.
“Free Angela (Thoughts…And All I’ve Got To Say)” is the album’s philosophical and musical statement. It is a song that presents the pain and passion of Davis’ journey at the time. Santana would cover the song on their Lotus album.
“Najeri (Belonging To A Warrior)” and “Bayete (Between Man And God)” continue the exploration of his African heritage through layers of rhythms. “Eurus (The Southeast Wind)” is more melodic as trumpet and sax laid different melodies on top of those created by his keyboards.
The new liner notes consist of a long interview with Cochran who revisits his music over 40 years later.
Worlds Around The Sun is a glimpse not only into the mind of a gifted musician but into an era as well. The music remains a little outside the mainstream but that is part of its charm and legacy. A nice album for anyone interested in an excellent off-shoot of early 1970’s jazz.