Personnel: Billy Cobham (drums, percussion); Alvin Batiste (vocals, clarinet); Pete Escovedo (vocals, percussion); Kathleen Kaan (vocals); Peter Maunu (guitar); Joachim Kühn (piano); Mark Soskin (keyboards).
Of all Billy Cobham's Columbia fusion sessions, time has been the most unkind to Magic. Despite some inspired and at times awe-inspiring performances, the album is too much a product of its era, suffering from sickly sweet production, awkward vocal contributions, and ill-fitting clarinet contributions from an out of place Alvin Batiste. Strip away the viscous layers of gloss and indulgence, and Magic begins to live up to its title. Cobham's rhythmic interplay with bassist Randy Jackson and percussionists Pete Escovedo and Sheila E. is nothing short of astounding, as fierce and funky as anything in the drummer's catalog. But the songs are tepid and the arrangements overbaked, not to mention that Pete Maunu's guitar wankery verging on the point of absurdity. All in all, too much of a good thing, yet still not enough. ~ Jason Ankeny
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