Pianist Ryan Cohan's Another Look
(Published: September 09, 2010)
On September 14, 2010, Motéma, one of the industry's leading labels, will proudly release Another Look, pianist/composer Ryan Cohan's follow up recording to his highly praised debut recording for the label, 2007's One Sky, which landed on the "Best Recordings of the Year" lists in multiple major media outlets. While One Sky displayed the Guggenheim Fellow's prodigious talents as a composer, Another Look takes a major leap towards showcasing the strength and depth of Cohan's gifts as a pianist and as an improviser. "While my previous recordings centered more heavily on my writing, this project offers a perspective shift towards spontaneous playing. We went into the studio immediately following several weeks of touring in Europe to capture a live feel and the raw essence of my group. It was the perfect opportunity to record", said Cohan.
Ryan Cohan's Quartet, featuring Geof Bradfield (tenor & soprano saxophones), Lorin Cohen (bass) and Kobie Watkins (drums), have been playing together in the U.S. and internationally since 2003 (The Quartet was twice chosen for the 2008-2009 Rhythm Road: American Music Abroad program sponsored by Jazz At Lincoln Center and the U.S. State Department). "There have been so many exciting musical moments spontaneously igniting on the bandstand over the years with these supportive and incredibly talented musicians. It always was, and is, about playing in the now, taking chances, swinging hard, and the group vibe; the chemistry that developed as much from countless hours rehearsing and performing in concert as from hanging together in good humor on myriad bus and plane rides on the road. The little things like bunking four to a tiny railcar across Russia, or blowing with hyper-intensity in Congo with a giant fruit bat flying overhead indoors all affect the musical camaraderie. That unique band quality is also an ineffable connection; a special something that just happens with the right players and personalities making music together. There's nothing like it." Another Look offers a snapshot of this band, these experiences, and as a natural result, their latest musical point-of-view.
The music on Another Look is greatly enhanced by special guests Joe Locke on vibes and Steve Kroon on percussion. Cohan comments: "When I considered these arrangements, I was hearing vibes in the front line. Specifically, I heard Joe Locke whose playing and writing I have admired for a long time. His voice seemed a natural fit, and with Joe's masterful musicianship and remarkable imagination, I knew he would not sound like a guest but like a longtime member of the group. In the past decade, listening to percussionist Steve Kroon's deep and soulful groove has influenced my music. He was the obvious choice for these tunes, so I was thrilled to have Steve join our ensemble."
"Another Look is programmed like a set of one of my live shows. Listening to it from beginning to end is pretty accurate to the experience of coming out to a club or concert hall to hear us," explains Cohan. The opening track "Monk'n Around", inspired by Monk of course, but also by Ahmad Jamal's famous trio with Israel Crosby and Vernell Fournier, is a set opener at most of Cohan's performances and immediately conveys the swing, fire, warmth and empathy of this band. Many of the tunes on Another Look, such as "Joshua" and "This Or That", contain shifting time signatures and rhythmic feels, with melodic and harmonic elements threading the music together. Cohan explains further, "not only does this demand mastery of various rhythmic styles, for the music to have cohesion the players must have a compositional awareness to create a homogenous shape for the piece and be in the moment in every performance. I like to write in all kinds of meters and feels, but I never want the music to sound complicated or disjointed. The depth and complexity of the writing should be under the hood for the musicians to know, but ultimately, the music should groove and make your body want to move. So the title of the CD also came from how the different sections of much of this music morph into one another and are recast in another groove or color. Material seen again in ‘another look'."
Another standout on Another Look is a tune that Cohan composed some time ago, "Song For My Grandfather", which serves as a brilliant example of Cohan's ability to write his life, and himself into his music. The pianist explains, "From my earliest memories my grandfather and I had a unique bond, and his joy of life, family, work and friends continues to inspire me. This was one of the first tunes I ever composed. While fondly reminiscing about him one afternoon almost twenty years ago, this music seemed to write itself. That experience was the first that taught me what it meant to connect personally with my writing. As my musicianship evolved over the years, so did the interpretation of this tune. The message of the music, however, remained consistent, and made this tune a very important one in our set."
Look for Ryan Cohan's Another Look on Motéma - available on September 14, 2010!
More on Ryan Cohan - Guggenheim Fellow Ryan Cohan has distinguished himself as a vital original voice to be heard amongst the elite young jazz artists on the global music scene today. Upon receiving his performance degree from DePaul University in 1993, Cohan began making his mark playing and writing with the top jazz and Latin musicians in Chicago. He has since performed with many iconic artists and stellar ensembles including Freddie Hubbard, Curtis Fuller, Ramsey Lewis, Joe Locke, Paquito D'Rivera, Jon Faddis, Kurt Elling, Pat La Barbera, Andy Narell, Regina Carter, Michal Urbaniak, Otis Clay, Orbert Davis, The Chicago Jazz Philharmonic and The Chicago Symphony Orchestra's MusicNOW Ensemble among many others. His diverse resume includes a substantial list of commercial studio performing credits, collaborating with internationally renown tap dancers, and writing the theme music to "The Legends Of Jazz" nationally syndicated TV show. In addition to receiving the prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship for Composition, Cohan has earned several other highly competitive awards including two New Works Awards and the Encore Award from Chamber Music America, two Illinois Arts Council composer fellowships, three City Of Chicago artist grants and the Composer Award Grant from American Music Center. As an educator, Cohan has been on the faculty member of The Skidmore Jazz Institute (Saratoga Springs), held the position of assistant director of jazz ensembles at The University Of Illinois at Chicago and continues to work as an artist clinician at universities and high schools throughout the U.S. and abroad.
Another Look CD release events!: 9/17 & 9/18 @ The Green Mill (Chicago), 9/19 @ Room 43 (Chicago), 10/8 & 10/9 @ Peter Miller's (Evanston, IL), and 12/14 @ The Chicago Cultural Center
More Information: http://motema.com/artist/ryan-cohan