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Philip Cohran

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Information about Philip Cohran

Profile image of Philip Cohran

Profession

Category:
MusicMakers
Occupation(s):
Trumpet Player

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
Grits
Favorite Time of Year:
Birthday
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Chicago, Illinois
Favorite Quote:
A Man Gets Worked On By What He Works On.

Birthplace

Born:
5/8/1927
Birth Location:
Oxford, Mississippi

Profession

Category:
MusicMakers
Occupation(s):
Trumpet Player

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
Grits
Favorite Time of Year:
Birthday
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Chicago, Illinois
Favorite Quote:
A Man Gets Worked On By What He Works On.

Birthplace

Born:
5/8/1927
Birth Location:
Oxford
See how Philip Cohran is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Chicago music legend Philip Cohran was born Philip Thomas Cohran on May 8, 1927, in Oxford, Mississippi. His parents, Frankie Mae Green Cohran and Philip Thomas Cohran, who had ancestral ties to Rust College, sent their only child to the Oxford Training School and later to school in Troy, Missouri. Cohran attended Vashon High School in St. Louis, but graduated from Lincoln University Laboratory High School in 1945. Music teachers Ruby Harris Gill and Lewis A. Laird identified chemistry major Cohran as a Lincoln University prodigy. Drawn increasingly to music, Cohran played trumpet with a number of groups in the St. Louis area during the late 1940s.

In 1950, Cohran joined Jay McShann’s touring swing band, playing with Charlie Parker and Walter Brown. He recorded with McShann for Houston’s Peacock Records where he backed up Big Mama Thornton and Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown. Drafted that year, Cohran trained Naval bands at Annapolis, Maryland. Discharged in 1952, Cohran moved to Chicago where he studied the Schillinger system and played with Jimmy Bell and Walter Perkins. For the balance of the 1950s, Cohran was a part of Sun Ra’s cutting edge Astral Infinity Arkestra where he played trumpet, zithers and harp on recordings such as Rocket Number Nine and We Travel the Spaceways. Cohran remained in Chicago when Sun Ra moved to Montreal in 1962, and briefly joined the Nation of Islam. A remarkable autodidact, Cohran amassed a huge library of books and media. His studies and research on science, health, history and music made him a community guru.

In 1966, Cohran’s Artistic Heritage Ensemble included Amina Claudine Myers, Ajramu, Larry King, Eugene Easton, Don Myric, Aaron Dodd, Bob Crowder, Pete Cosey, Charles Hany, Louis Satterfield, Verdeen White and Maurice White. The latter three later formed the nucleus of the musical group Earth, Wind and Fire, utilizing the thumb piano sounds pioneered by Cohran. One of his 1966 concerts at 63rd Street Beach in Chicago drew 3,000 people. As founding director of the Afro Arts Theater in 1967, Cohran hosted a weekly cultural extravaganza that featured poets like, Haki Madhubuti (Don L. Lee), Carolyn Rodgers and Useni Eugene Perkins; dancers like Darlene Blackburn and Alyo Tolbert; and musicians from the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) that he founded with Muhal Richard Abrams. In 1968, Cohran left Affro Arts to teach at Malcom X College.

From 1975 to 1977, Cohran operated Transitions East, a Chicago South Side venue featuring music and health food. In the 1980s, Cohran twice co-chaired Artists for Harold Washington. In 1987, he composed the award-winning music for the Sky Show at Chicago’s Adler Planetarium. His music has been featured in countless venues including the Chicago Jazz Festival. Honored numerous times for his musicianship and teaching, Cohran was honored with the name “Kelan” by Chinese Muslims while on tour in 1991.

Cohran passed away on June 28, 2017 at the age of 90.

See how Philip Cohran is related to other HistoryMakers
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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Philip Cohran's interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Philip Cohran lists his favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Philip Cohran describes his mother's family background, pt. 1
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Philip Cohran remembers his childhood friends in Oxford, Mississippi
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Philip Cohran describes his maternal grandfather
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Philip Cohran describes his mother's family background, pt. 2
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Philip Cohran describes his mother's family background, pt. 3
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Philip Cohran describes the history of his surname
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Philip Cohran describes his father's family background, pt. 1
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Philip Cohran remembers his paternal grandparents
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Philip Cohran describes his paternal uncles
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Philip Cohran describes his father's family background, pt. 2
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Philip Cohran talks about his father's education
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Philip Cohran describes his parents' marriage
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Philip Cohran recalls his childhood during the Great Depression
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Philip Cohran describes his earliest childhood memory
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Philip Cohran describes his neighborhood in Oxford, Mississippi
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Philip Cohran remembers his early music lessons
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Philip Cohran describes his family's decision to move to Troy, Missouri
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Philip Cohran describes the history of Native Americans in Troy, Missouri
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Philip Cohran remembers his elementary education
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Philip Cohran describes the culture of Troy, Missouri
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Philip Cohran recalls his music teacher at Lincoln University Laboratory High School in Jefferson City, Missouri
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Philip Cohran recalls his early musical influences
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Philip Cohran describes his perspective on religion
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Philip Cohran describes Africans' regard for musicians
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Philip Cohran describes his early career as a musician
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Philip Cohran describes the jazz community in St. Louis, Missouri
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Philip Cohran recalls his experiences in Jay McShann's band, pt. 1
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Philip Cohran recalls his experiences in Jay McShann's band, pt. 2
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Philip Cohran remembers being drafted to the U.S. Army during the Korean War
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Philip Cohran recalls his transfer to the United States Naval School of Music
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Philip Cohran describes his travels with the U.S. Army band
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Philip Cohran describes his experiences of racial discrimination in the U.S. Army
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Philip Cohran remembers his move to Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Philip Cohran describes his experiences with drugs
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Philip Cohran remembers his arrival in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Philip Cohran recalls working in a steel mill in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Philip Cohran describes Sun Ra's personality and background
  • Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Philip Cohran talks about the influence of Sun Ra's philosophy
  • Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Philip Cohran remembers joining Sun Ra's band
  • Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Philip Cohran talks about Sun Ra's musical style
  • Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Philip Cohran remembers inventing the frankiphone, pt. 1
  • Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Philip Cohran remembers inventing the frankiphone, pt. 2
  • Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Philip Cohran remembers the development of Sun Ra's music
  • Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Philip Cohran recalls his introduction to the Nation of Islam, pt. 1
  • Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Philip Cohran recalls his introduction to the Nation of Islam, pt. 2
  • Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Philip Cohran reflects upon the Nation of Islam's relationship to music
  • Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Philip Cohran talks about the symbol of the sine curve
  • Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Philip Cohran describes his work with Malcolm X in the Nation of Islam
  • Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Philip Cohran reflects upon the discipline in the Nation of Islam
  • Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Philip Cohran talks about his experiences in the 1960s
  • Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Philip Cohran reflects upon the perception of Malcolm X, pt. 1
  • Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Philip Cohran reflects upon the perception of Malcolm X, pt. 2
  • Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Philip Cohran describes the Black Arts Movement, pt. 1
  • Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Philip Cohran describes the Black Arts Movement, pt. 2
  • Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Philip Cohran describes the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, pt. 1
  • Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Philip Cohran describes the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, pt. 2
  • Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Philip Cohran talks about his use of incense during performances
  • Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Philip Cohran recalls leaving the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians
  • Tape: 8 Story: 9 - Philip Cohran remembers meeting Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Philip Cohran describes the creation of 'Lyrics of Sunshine and Shadow,' pt. 1
  • Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Philip Cohran describes the creation of 'Lyrics of Sunshine and Shadow,' pt. 2
  • Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Philip Cohran talks about the origins of music, pt. 1
  • Tape: 9 Story: 4 - Philip Cohran talks about the origins of music, pt. 2
  • Tape: 9 Story: 5 - Philip Cohran talks about the origins of music, pt. 3
  • Tape: 9 Story: 6 - Philip Cohran recalls his performances at the 63rd Street Beach in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 9 Story: 7 - Philip Cohran recalls founding the Afro-Arts Theater in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 10 Story: 1 - Philip Cohran describes the programing at the Afro-Arts Theater, pt. 1
  • Tape: 10 Story: 2 - Philip Cohran describes the programing at the Afro-Arts Theater, pt. 2
  • Tape: 10 Story: 3 - Philip Cohran talks about the mission of the Afro-Arts Theater
  • Tape: 10 Story: 4 - Philip Cohran recalls the closure of the Afro-Arts Theater
  • Tape: 10 Story: 5 - Philip Cohran describes the music of the Artistic Heritage Ensemble
  • Tape: 10 Story: 6 - Philip Cohran describes the response to the closure of the Afro-Arts Theater, pt. 1
  • Tape: 10 Story: 7 - Philip Cohran describes the response to the closure of the Afro-Arts Theater, pt. 2