Mojo (UK)

KELAN PHIL COHRAN

JAZZ VISIONARY

- Clive Prior

BORN 1927

Born in St Louis, Phil Cohran played trumpet with Clark Terry and Jay McShann before getting drafted. After returning to civilian life in Chicago, he joined the Sun Ra Arkestra from 1959 to 1961, appearing on albums including Interstell­ar Low Ways and Angels And Demons At Play. In 1965, concerned by jazz’s possible eclipse by rock, he co-founded the avant-garde Associatio­n For The Advancemen­t of Creative Musicians, a non-profit support organisati­on whose membership included Anthony Braxton, George Lewis, The Art Ensemble Of Chicago and more. In 1967, Cohran establishe­d the multi-disciplina­ry Afro-Arts Theater, attended

by Chaka Khan among others, and the Artistic Heritage Ensemble, in which he played harp, brass, woodwind and percussion with future members of Earth, Wind & Fire (another innovation was the Frankiphon­e, aka the Space Harp, an electric mbira of the type later used by Maurice White). In recent years he played with the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble, formed by his sons, and was present for 2015’s 50-year AACM exhibit at Chicago’s DuSable Museum of African-American History.

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