Phil Cohran & Legacy - African Skies

08 January, 2012

By C. Mike


I'm a sucker for Philip Cohran. He embodies everything spiritual and deep jazz stands for. Dynamics, melody, vocal pleasure, political opinion, variation of instruments and, of course, an incorporation of the African tribal sounds to the European jazz fusion aesthetics.


He has served as a trumpet player and disciple of the great Sun Ra Arkestra and is nowadays famous for being the father and uncle of 7 (…or is it 8?) members of the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble.


But this record is an absolute gem for another reason. It is an ode to Cohran's longtime mentor and friend, Herman Blount, a.k.a Sun Ra. After Ra's death in 1992, Cohran gathered his favourite people, family and fellow musicians, and wrote this gem to the memory of his leader.


"White Nile" is the shrine, the place where Sun Ra' spirit is captured. The title is reminiscent of Ra's ode to Egypt but this time it's the white death that's surrounding the river. Cohran plays frankiphone (a self made organ) and trumpet on this song, while a classical harp loops around it.


"Cohran Blues"is a typical Cohran song, starting on with an array of trumpets and regular string bass tempo, then climaxing to a mantra-like choral from Aquilla Sadalla where she cries out "I don't know what you've come here to do, I've come here to heck my feet" .


On the last 4 songs, Cohran and his fellow practitioners recruit congas, flutes, trombones, piccolo string bass, guitars and bass clarinets. The result is sublime, enlightening and often liberating."Sahara"is hypnotic, harp-influenced and led by a bass rhythm that reminds me of the music produced in the African town of Soweto. Flutes build in on the short and tribal "Kalahari"paving the way to a final goodbye of his friend on"Kilimanjaro". The latter captures the essence of the whole record. It is slow-building, employing every single instrument that was mentioned and closing with another powerful yet lamenting mantra from Sadalla.


This is a record that will bring tears to your eyes. You'll feel the loss, you'll comprehend the emotional depth, you'll travel to places that you've never thought of before; such is the power of this hidden masterpiece. It will be difficult to download it on mp3. It is so rare, that the only way is to buy it on vinyl. But this could be a very good reason to buy a turntable and dig in the crates, once more.




Primary Genre: Jazz

Subgenre: Experimental

Release Date: 7 December 2010 

Label: Captcha Records

Influences:  Sun Ra

Like This And You'll Probably Also Like: AACM, Earth, Wind and Fire, Hypnotic Brass Enesemble

Album Highlights: White Nile, Cohran Blues, The Dogon




   Kelan Phil Cohran





"This is truly a masterpiece, a hidden gem, worth every penny and then some, 8.5/10"


Phil Cohran



Contributor mini-profile

C. Mike

C. Mike

12 Fluffy Reviews
"It's not that I'm afraid to die. I just don't want to be there when it happens"
Mini bio
Member of the White Room film production team where he works as a director, editor and head chef. His team's clients include the famous and very talented musicians of the Greek music industry. He was also an amazing basketball player, but, nowadays, something's wrong with his shot balance , resulting in very poor performances. Nevertheless, he still believes in a resurection. 
Mike is a vinyl collector, with a pretty pretty good stock. He thinks music is his passion. But is he music's passion???

Favourite Bands / Artists
The Jam
The Verve
Peter Broderick
Sun Ra
Philip Cohran