KELAN PHILIP COHRAN AND THE HYPNOTIC BRASS ENSEMBLE
At Eighty Five, jazz legend Philip Cohran is doing pretty well. Keeping busy in his adopted hometown of Chicago he’s still a regular sight around town, and by the sounds of this latest album, recorded last summer, he’s not lost any of his edge. Cohran is still best known for lending his expertise to Sun Ra’s Arkestra, most notably contributing zither to ‘Angels and Demons at Play’. Over the last umpteen years however his focus has been on his Hypnotic Brass Ensemble, where he (accompanied by no less than eight of his family) has managed to stumble across a unique and hauntingly beautiful sound. This is not the jazz you might be expecting to hear but a mélange of collected sound from the folk music of North Africa to the zipping Gypsy ballads of Eastern Europe. Choosing brass was a smart move on Cohran’s part, and he avoids and comparisons to the dearth of brass bands that polluted record shelves in the 1960s and 1970s. His brass is practiced and honed to a razor sharp point, and the distinct, rounded tones add depth and originality to his phenomenal compositions. For our money there are few jazz ensembles as constantly arresting as the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble, and this is possibly their most enjoyable set yet.