Kelan Phil Cohran Ensemble Recommended Soundboard

When: Sat., Aug. 11, 9:30 p.m. 2012

Trumpeter, composer, and bandleader Kelan Phil Cohran is bona fide Chicago music royalty. He played with Sun Ra's Arkestra in the late 50s and early 60s, cofounded the AACM in 1965, and contributed hugely to the Black Arts Movement in the late 60s, in part by leading the influential Artistic Heritage Ensemble. He's also the father of 19 children, including the eight that form the core of the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble. They recently made their first full-length album together, Kelan Philip Cohran & the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble (Honest Jon's), which treats seven Cohran compositions from across his career to appropriately elegant, precise, and resonant performances—it's the finest recording Hypnotic has yet released. On the album Cohran switches among zither, harp, French horn, cornet, and Frankiphone (an electric thumb piano he designed in the 60s), but it's his sons—whom he taught to play music when they were children, before they would leave for school in the morning—who bring out the magisterial grace, elegant melodies, and haunting sonorities of his writing. Though the members of Hypnotic all take terrific, carefully measured solos, it's the ensemble performances that demonstate the complexity and inventiveness of Cohran's music. For this concert, part of Steve Krakow's Secret History of Chicago Music series, Cohran plays with his own ensemble, whose set should sound something like African Skies (Captcha), a live Adler Planetarium recording from 1993 built on hypnotic string ostinatos, meditative solos, restrained chants, and soulful postbop. It's as gorgeous and sophisticated as anything Cohran has ever done. —Peter Margasak

Price: $12-$15

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