From the Vault...


Bill Cosby
"Hello, Friend: To Ennis With Love"

© Verve Records

Year of Release: 1983

track listing
  • Wide Open
  • Moanin'
  • Sister Sadie
  • Laura
  • Freedom Jazz Dance
  • Stella By Starlight
  • Sidewinder
  • Senor Blues

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    Bill Cosby
    "Hello, Friend: To Ennis With Love"

    "I'm just trying to find a way to always have proof that a wonderful young man was here... Really, a wonderful young man. You know how people hum a song that they love? The people who knew Ennis still hum about him with smiles on their faces.

    This album is dedicated to him from the whole family -- his mother, his sisters, relatives, and friends. We had our own personal greeting which was 'mon frère', my brother. Father to son, mon frère. Then, being true Americans, we shortened it to 'MUMF.' But occasionally, he would greet me with, "Hello, my friend." How wonderful, because I don't ever feel that good-bye is necessary in Ennis's case. Even when it is time for me to leave, it will still be "Hello, friend." Now, I have to figure out what to do in order to get to where he is when I die and that's going to be some job.

    This album was done a few years ago, but had yet to be released. However, about a month or so after Ennis' death, I decided that the music I recorded should be an album and that perhaps my old friends at Verve Records would join me in remembering Ennis by leaving this recording. I sincerely hope that you, the listener, will understand. I hope that you have bought the CD first because you love what's on it, but then become very, very happy because Verve has provided the time, energy, money, and love to make this album possible."
    BILL COSBY, June 1997

    Ennis William Cosby was the son of the famous comedian Bill Cosby. One of five children, he was Bill Cosby's only son. His life was taken away from an attempted highway robbery on January 16, 1997. He was visiting a friend, when his car had a flat tire. He called his female friend, who came out to help him. While there, she was approached by an armed man. She sped away, and while changing the tire, Ennis Cosby was approached, and shot in the head. He was 27 years old.

    For any parent (whether a celebrity or not), this is not how you would want your children to suffer such a death. Ennis probably didn't know what hit him, when he was shot. I'm sure when Mr. Cosby received that "you-hope-you-never-get" phone call, his world had come to an end.

    Bill Cosby is probably THE best comedian of all-time, next to George Carlin. No other comedians than Bill and George stood out, in how they developed common-day stories, with their sense of humor. I've always admired their comedy albums, as I had two albums from Cosby as a kid, Why Is There Air and Wonderfulness. (Yes, these vinyl albums were given to me by my brothers, with only just the vinyl records, and no album covers, like many others they had given me.) Warner Bros. did re-issue all of Cosby's albums from the label, and it's great to listen to them again. He did record other comedy albums, which one of them, Inside The Mind Of Bill Cosby, was an Album Pick of the Week, back in January, 1988.

    Cosby's second appearance here would be a more serious album: A tribute to his son. Cosby is really no stranger to recording music. He recorded two albums in the 1960s with Quincy Jones. He even took a crack at singing. His personal love of music is Jazz. Therefore, he contacted his friends from Verve Records, and put together upbeat and relaxing Jazz numbers. Which was a great idea, as none of the songs here are in a "sad atmosphere."

    The Jazz personnel for this album consisted of: Lester Bowie (trumpet), Phillip Harper (trumpet), Bobby Watson (alto saxophone), Craig Handy (tenor saxophone), Cedar Walton (piano), Peter Washington (bass), and Steve Kroon (percussion). None of these names may ring a bell as popular Jazz artists, but nonetheless, the 8 tracks on this tribute consists of outstanding, traditional Jazz. What is also interesting to know, is that one of the songs here was written by Mr. Cosby - "Wide Open," the opening track.

    "Moanin' was written by Bobby Timmons, and first recorded by Art Blakey's band. It has been recorded many times, and has become a jazz standard. Artists such as Horace Silver, Charles Mingus and Ray Charles would refer to this song, developing a "back to roots movement." Speaking of Horace Silver, "Sister Sadie" was written by him, and also has become a jazz standard, covered by the likes of Gil Evans, Ray Charles, Woody Herman and Buddy Rich, to name a few. "Laura" was composed by David Raksin in 1945, and Johnny Mercer added the lyrics. 400 known recordings have been made of this song, and has become a jazz standard. Artists (to name a few) who recorded this song: Woody Herman, Al Hirt, Ella Fitzgerald, Andy Williams, (and the one I remember) Spike Jones.

    Eddie Harris composed the next track, "Freedom Jazz Dance," and was most popular by another Jazz giant legend, Miles Davis. The jazz standard "Stella By Starlight," written by Victor Young, has been considered one of the most popular standards, ranked #10 by Harry James, Frank Sinatra, Charlie Parker, Stan Getz, Stan Kenton have covered it, and the list goes on and on. It was also used in movies, such as Jerry Lewis' <>The Nutty Professor (1963) and Casino (1995), starring Robert De Niro and Sharon Stone. Lee Morgan's "Sidwinder" was written in 1964, and became one of the defining recordings of the Soul Jazz genre. Recorded by Morgan, it featured a tenor saxophonist by the name of Joe Henderson, who would later become popular in his own Jazz right. Another track written by Horace Silver ends the album, "Senor Blues."

    Despite the sad theme of this album, the music is quite uplifting, relaxing and enjoyable to listen to. This is the standard jazz that will praise Jazz fans. Miles Davis fans will simply enjoy this tribute. It was interesting to research each song, to find out how they've become popular, recorded by other artists, and for some, by the original writers. Bill Cosby's taste in music is exceptional -- JAZZ, and a nice, touching tribute to his son, who was taken away violently, and way too soon.

    Other Bill Cosby albums will be reviewed on this site, of comedy and music. Bill Cosby still entertains from time to time, as he is now 76 years old. His comedy albums are the ones that everyone will remember, as he still is a comedian who can never be funnier than many of the others who have come after him, since he first appeared in 1963 with his first album, Bill Cosby Is A Very Funny Fellow...Right! The core of his comedy recordings were from 1963-1973 (at least one album released each year). He returned in 1977 and 1978, 1982, 1986 and 1991. Musically, eight albums of music were recorded from 1967 to 1977. He has written books since 1986. More information can be found on his website,

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