African Skies

by Phil Cohran and Legacy

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One of the most beautiful records we've ever heard from the legendary Phil Cohran – a previously-unissued performance from 1993, and one that's every bit as wonderful as his rare albums of the late 60s! The set was recorded at the planetarium in Chicago – and for the date, Cohran comes up with a really cosmic sound – a small combo that's heavy on string sounds from guitar, bass, and harp – layered together beautifully to create these Alice Coltrane-like undercurrents – over which the group solos with flute, trumpet, and trombone! There's less players here than on some of Cohran's older Artistic Heritage Ensemble sets, but the sound is exactly like those records – right down to some key moments in which Phil plays his amazing Frankiphone – an electrified kalimba with a tremendous tone. Titles include "White Nile", "Cohran Blues", "The Dogon", "Sahara", "Kalahari", and "Kilimanjaro" - Dusty Groove

"We at first balked at getting this 1993 recording by the great Sun Ra disciple Phil Cohran, because (and this just may be our own particular bias) more often than not we find that great and vital jazz artists from the sixties and seventies rarely stay quite as vital as time goes on. Or perhaps it's not the artist, but the technology of instruments and recording production as well as the aging and general mellowing of the culture that seem to give the music a less fresh vibe in our minds. But we were surprisingly blown away by African Skies, a live performance at the Adler Planetarium in Chicago as a memorial tribute to Cohran's former mentor and friend who had just passed away.

Ranking up there with the best of Cohran's recordings, African Skies is a beautiful cosmic jazz masterpiece utilizing mostly acoustic instruments such as harps, flutes, upright bass, francophone, bowed piccolo bass, and trumpet with some occasional ensemble and solo vocals. Looking at the back cover, this performance looks amazing too, with performers in traditional African garb playing these amazing large harps under a surrounding backdrop of projected galaxies. The pieces are minimally arranged with hypnotic rhythms and blithe flourishes. Occasionally a plaintive trumpet makes its presence known, or a woman vocalises soulfully, but it's really all about the fluidity of the sonic undertow that is vibrantly repetitive, and elusively graceful. Cohran doesn't try to mimic Sun Ra, but to emphasize the strongest qualities that he took away from the master: Beauty, Majesty and Reverence. Highest Recommendation!" - Aquarius Records

"One of the gems of the Cohran discography is African Skies, with its lovely harp playing, commissioned by the Chicago Planetarium in 1993." - propermusic

"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's Fluffy


released December 1, 2010

Bass Clarinet – Aquilla Sadalla
Congas – Kelan Phil Cohran*
Double Bass [Piccolo String Bass] – Oscar Brown III
Double Bass [String Bass] – Malik Cohran , Oscar Brown III
Flute – Aquilla Sadalla , Josefe Marie Verna , Malik Cohran , Oscar Brown III , Kelan Phil Cohran*
Guitar – Aquilla Sadalla , Malik Cohran , Kelan Phil Cohran*
Harp – Kelan Phil Cohran*
Harp [Classical] – Josefe Marie Verna
Kalimba [Frankiphone] – Kelan Phil Cohran*
Trombone – Josefe Marie Verna
Trumpet – Kelan Phil Cohran*
Ukulele [Violin Uke] – Kelan Phil Cohran*
Vocals – Aquilla Sadalla



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