Formally trained, he studied at no less than three music schools in classical and jazz studies: UCLA, University of San Jose, and later, the Trinity College of Music in London.
At age 15, Cochran became interested in many sounds of the Bay area, from Moby Grape to Sly Stone to the Jefferson Airplane. Jazz had a vibrant presence as well, with several clubs hosting internationally renowned talent. Vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson was a Los Angeles native who had been living and working in New York for most of the '60s. But in 1971 he relocated to San Francisco where he formed a quintet with saxophonist Harold Land. The vibraphonist had become aware of the young Cochran, who had been playing with numerous local musicians. Hutcherson invited him to play on an upcoming Blue Note date. From July 1-3 of 1971, Cochran arranged the entire session, playing piano (and experimenting with the Fender Rhodes for the first time) and contributing three of the four tunes on the original Head On -- a later reissue revealed the band (ranging from a quartet to over 20 pieces) had recorded seven of his tunes. He was just 19 years old. A month later, Cochran played live with John Klemmer; two of the tunes from that performance eventually ended up on 1973's Intensity. In early 1972, Cochran contributed to saxophonist Hadley Caliman's Impetus album. Due to the critical and commercial success of Hutcherson's Head On, Cochran secured a record deal with Prestige. He changed his name to Bayeté. On June 26, he entered the studio with Hutcherson, Caliman, trumpeter Oscar Brashear, bassist James Leary III, trombonist Wayne Wallace, and others. The end result was Worlds Around the Sun, released later in the year. In September of 1972, three months after that session and using the name Bayeté Umbra Zindiko, he recorded his follow-up album with a quintet; it was released in 1973 as Seeking Other Beauty. As a keyboardist he also appeared on Herbie Hancock's soundtrack for the film The Spook Who Sat by the Door in 1974. Things shifted for the mercurial Bayeté/Cochran at that point; he became interested in progressive rock and fusion. In 1975 he participated in Japanese percussionist Stomu Yamashta's first GO project, with Santana drummer Michael Shrieve and Steve Winwood. In late 1975, Bayeté and Shrieve formed the progressive-psych rock band Automatic Man. They recorded two albums for Arista, a self-titled offering in 1976 and 1978's Visitors. Through the remainder of the '70s, Bayeté immersed himself in session work, playing on Peter Gabriel's second album, as well as on sessions by Alphonso Johnson, Wilding-Bonus, Airto, Stix Hooper, and Stanley Turrentine. As "Bayeté Todd Cochran," he began a long working relationship with bassist Stanely Clarke, initially appearing on albums such as Modern Man and I Wanna Play for You. Cochran began the '80s with ELP drummer Carl Palmer on the latter's solo album, 1 P.M., but then shifted his focus to more songwriting and production work. Throughout the decade, Cochran (sometimes as "Tod T Cochran") focused on jazz, funk, or R&B recordings. Some of the artists he worked with during the period as either a keyboardist, songwriter, or producer include Clarke, Freddie Hubbard, Arthur Blythe, Aretha Franklin, Cheryl Lynn, Gene Page, Rodney Franklin, Teena Marie, Paulinho Da Costa, George Howard, and Howard Hewett. In 1991 he privately released the acoustic jazz album Todd in an extremely limited edition; he also began to play the festival circuit, and to teach at Stanford University. His recording and production work during the '90s included producing and arranging guitarist Juan Carlos Quintero's Through the Winds, and playing on records by Clarke and Joan Armatrading. In the 21st century, Cochran turned toward film and television scoring, and composing classical works. Some of his cinema credits include the scores for Woman Thou Art Loosed, Love and Other Four Letter Words, and The Lena Baker Story. In March of 2014, Bayeté's Worlds Around the Sun was remastered and reissued with bonus material on Omnivore. ~ Thom Jurek, Rovi