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Terence Blanchard

Jazz trumpeter and composer Terence Oliver Blanchard was born on March 13, 1962 in New Orleans, Louisiana to Wilhelmina and Joseph Oliver Blanchard. Blanchard began playing piano at the age of five, but switched to trumpet three years later. While in high school, he took extracurricular classes at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts. From 1980 to 1982, Blanchard studied at Rutgers University in New Jersey and toured with the Lionel Hampton Orchestra.

In 1982, Blanchard replaced trumpeter Wynton Marsalis in Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, where he served as musical director until 1986. He also co-led a quintet with saxophonist Donald Harrison in the 1980s, recording five albums between 1984 and 1988. In 1991, Blanchard recorded and released his self-titled debut album for Columbia Records, which reached third on the Billboard Jazz Charts. He also composed musical scores for Spike Lee’s films, beginning with 1991’s Jungle Fever, and has written the score for every Spike Lee film since including Malcolm X, Clockers, Summer of Sam, 25th Hour, Inside Man, and Miracle At St. Anna’s. In 2006, he composed the score for Lee's four-hour Hurricane Katrina documentary for HBO entitled When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts. Blanchard also composed for other directors, including Leon Ichaso, Ron Shelton, Kasi Lemmons and George Lucas. In all, he has written over fifty film scores.

Blanchard has also recorded several award-winning albums for Columbia, Concord, Sony Classical and Blue Note Records, including Simply Stated (1992), The Malcolm X Jazz Suite (1993), In My Solitude: The Billie Holiday Songbook (1994), Romantic Defiance (1995), The Heart Speaks (1996), Wandering Moon (2000), Let's Get Lost (2001), Bounce (2003), Flow (2005), A Tale of God's Will (A Requiem for Katrina) (2007), Choices (2009), and Magnetic (2013).

In the fall of 2000, Blanchard was named artistic director of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz at the University of Southern California. In 2011, he was appointed artistic director of the Henry Mancini Institute at the University of Miami. Blanchard also composed music for a number of Broadway plays, and, on June 15, 2013, he premiered his first opera, Champion, with the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis.

Throughout his career, Blanchard received thirteen Grammy Award nominations and won five. His other honors include an Emmy nomination, a Golden Globe nomination, a Soul Train Music nomination, two Black Reel nominations, and the Miles Davis Award from the Montreal International Jazz Festival. He received honorary degrees from Xavier University and Skidmore College in 2012.

Terence Blanchard was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on October 8, 2014.

Accession Number

A2014.248

Sex

Male

Interview Date

10/8/2014

Last Name

Blanchard

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Oliver

Schools

Mary D. Coghill Elementary School

P. A. Capdau School

St. Augustine High School

John F. Kennedy High School

New Orleans Center for Creative Arts

Rutgers University

First Name

Terence

Birth City, State, Country

New Orleans

HM ID

BLA17

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Louisiana

Favorite Vacation Destination

New Orleans, Louisiana

Favorite Quote

When You’re Creating Your Art Never Speak Above Nobody, Never Speak Beneath Them, Just Speak Straight To Them.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Louisiana

Birth Date

3/13/1962

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New Orleans

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Okra Gumbo

Short Description

Trumpet player and music composer Terence Blanchard (1962 - ) was a five-time Grammy Award-winning musician and a prolific film score composer. He released twenty jazz albums and wrote over fifty film scores for Spike Lee and other directors.

Employment

Henry Mancini Institute

Terence Blanchard

Herbie Hancock

Thelonious Monk Institute

Donald Harrison & Terence Blanchard

Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers

Lionel Hampton

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
0,0:410,220:22290,607:25605,717:45494,958:45858,963:49134,1018:49862,1027:50317,1034:54776,1113:59922,1147:60232,1245:71708,1352:79180,1479:87620,1601:111693,1934:125974,2251:126430,2258:127038,2277:128862,2340:129242,2346:132230,2356:133510,2386:137350,2461:143082,2517:152034,2669:154944,2743:156593,2762:169554,2991:170146,3011:186904,3243:187259,3249:187543,3254:189247,3291:197400,3647:202130,3936:220918,4125:241380,4314$0,0:11362,273:12032,279:16373,340:18448,380:18946,387:21666,404:22026,410:24576,433:24984,439:25596,446:28424,465:36361,638:41526,734:42021,740:53704,892:54968,916:59629,1007:63579,1106:64369,1156:70268,1239:77076,1419:81837,1515:83146,1543:93190,1721:93590,1727:95110,1763:100630,1916:103510,1985:104070,1993:114755,2115:115355,2129:115805,2136:116330,2145:119255,2202:129162,2329:129820,2337:139444,2499:140839,2517:142141,2608:155268,2754:165540,2929
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Terence Blanchard's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Terence Blanchard lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Terence Blanchard describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Terence Blanchard remembers his father's musical talent

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Terence Blanchard describes his mother's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Terence Blanchard talks about his French heritage

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Terence Blanchard describes how his parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Terence Blanchard describes his earliest childhood memories

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Terence Blanchard describes his childhood homes

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Terence Blanchard remembers living with his maternal grandmother

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Terence Blanchard talks about his early interests and aspirations

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Terence Blanchard describes his relationship with his father

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Terence Blanchard talks about his early education

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Terence Blanchard recalls his decision to attend the New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Terence Blanchard describes his education at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Terence Blanchard recalls his friendship with Wynton Marsalis and Branford Marsalis

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Terence Blanchard recalls his decision to play the trumpet

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Terence Blanchard remembers meeting Alvin Alcorn

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Terence Blanchard recalls his decision to study music formally

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Terence Blanchard recalls his aspiration to become a musician

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Terence Blanchard recalls his early interest in jazz music

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Terence Blanchard recalls his decision to attend Rutgers University

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Terence Blanchard remembers the jazz venues in New Orleans, Louisiana

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Terence Blanchard remembers his teacher, Ellis Marsalis, Jr.

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Terence Blanchard remembers William Fielder

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Terence Blanchard talks about the importance of breath for musicians, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Terence Blanchard talks about the importance of breath for musicians, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Terence Blanchard recalls his introduction to Buddhism

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Terence Blanchard remembers playing in Lionel Hampton's band

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Terence Blanchard remembers leaving Rutgers University to tour with Art Blakey

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Terence Blanchard remembers touring with Art Blakey

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Terence Blanchard remembers Miles Davis

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Terence Blanchard recalls signing a contract with Columbia Records

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Terence Blanchard describes his composition and recording process

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Terence Blanchard talks about the messages in his music

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Terence Blanchard remembers the birth of his son

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Terence Blanchard remembers meeting his half-sister

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Terence Blanchard recalls the start of his collaborations with Spike Lee

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Terence Blanchard remembers scoring 'Malcolm X'

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Terence Blanchard describes his composition process for 'Malcolm X'

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Terence Blanchard remembers the other contributors to 'Malcolm X'

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Terence Blanchard describes his relationship with Spike Lee

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Terence Blanchard lists his film scores

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Terence Blanchard remembers scoring '4 Little Girls'

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Terence Blanchard remembers Hurricane Katrina

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Terence Blanchard remembers the destruction of his mother's home in New Orleans, Louisiana

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Terence Blanchard remembers the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Terence Blanchard talks about the response to Hurricane Katrina

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Terence Blanchard remembers scoring Spike Lee's 'When the Levees Broke'

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Terence Blanchard talks about teaching young musicians

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$2

DAStory

1$5

DATitle
Terence Blanchard remembers leaving Rutgers University to tour with Art Blakey
Terence Blanchard describes his education at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts
Transcript
So when did you graduate college?$$I never graduated college.$$Oh, okay.$$No.$$So what's--tell me more about Rutgers [Rutgers University, The State University of New Jersey, New Brunswick, New Jersey]?$$(Laughter).$$And what, how do we go from, where do we go from Lionel Hampton--$$Yeah.$$--Rutgers (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) (Unclear) right.$$--and--$$Well, I was at Rutgers in 1980 and I was playing with Lionel Hampton. I was the first one in my immediate family--my aunt [Alice Ray Douglas] went to college but my mom [Wilhelmina Ray Blanchard] and my dad [Joseph Blanchard] didn't so I was the first one to go to college. And they were--and I went to an Ivy League school [sic.]? Please, you know, they wanted me to be a classical musician remember so I'm going, I'm going to Rutgers, "My son is at Rutgers," you know, that was a big thing. Had to come back with all the paraphernalia for everybody. And I was playing with Lionel Hampton who they also knew. And that was like--he was--I remember Ebony magazine took a picture of Lionel Hampton at some place and I was a speck in the corner of the picture, I think, I bet you Ebony sales went up that month 'cause everybody was buy- in my family was buying the magazine. So they were cool with me doing that. That was about a year and a half. All of a sudden Wynton [Wynton Marsalis] calls me up and he goes, "Hey, man, I'm leaving Art Blakey's band and I want you to audition." I'm like, "Cool." I go up and audition, didn't tell my parents, I got the gig. And I'm like oh, killing. They say we're gone leave for Europe for ten weeks and I went, "Uh-oh." So I had to call my parents and I had to tell 'em, I said, like, "Guess what? I got this gig playing with Art Blakey." "Oh, well, that's nice, that's nice." And I said, "But I think I'm gone have to leave school." (Makes sound) It was like the piano thing but even worse (laughter). Yeah. My father told me, he said--I'll never forget it--he said, "You're not my son." Yeah, that hurt me. He said, "You're not my son," he said "'cause my son wouldn't do nothing that stupid." 'Cause he didn't know who Art Blakey was, you know. And it didn't make sense to him, I was playing with Lionel Hampton on the weekends, making money and still in school and I'm gonna leave that to go play with some dude they don't know? You know, oh, man, it was, it was really, it was--it was amazing. But the thing that was cool about it, you know, me and my dad had a great relationship because at that moment he didn't talk to me for a little bit but I'll never forget when I made my first record with Art Blakey, right? Art--they called the album, they used my song as the title track, 'Oh-By the Way,' which is something that I had written when I was in high school, right. I come back with the album and I give it to my dad, like, "Man, see this is what I've been doing, this is, I'm, I'm telling you, this is the guy," then they got a picture of us on the back, you know. Like, "This, this is what I've been doing." My dad was kind of like, "Yeah, all right, whatever." But you gotta remember my dad had some jazz friends, right. So (laughter) I don't know if it was like a month, or a little while later, I get a phone call from my dad, I'm back up here in New York [New York] and my dad goes, "Hey, I was talking to Clem." Clem Tervalon [Clement Tervalon] was a trombone player in New Orleans [Louisiana], great trombone player. He said, "Yeah, I was talking to Clem and Clem told me this Art Blakey is somebody," (laughter). I said, I said, "Well, I was trying to tell you that," (laughter) you know. And that's when things started to turn around for, for me and him. And I'll never forget it--boy, I don't know what, how we got in this conversation. My dad was talking to me one day and he goes, "I'm proud of you." And I'm like, "Well, thank you," and, and he goes, "No, you don't understand." I said, "What do you mean?" He said, "If you would have listened to me," he said, 'cause he wanted me, he didn't want me to go away to school--he said, "if you would have listened to me you would have been in New Orleans, probably not doing what you wanna do, and you'd probably be bitter." He said, "And I'm proud of what you turned into." That was huge, that was really huge.$So I went to Kennedy [John F. Kennedy High School, New Orleans, Louisiana] in the morning and then at lunch time a bus would pick us up and bring us to NOCCA [New Orleans Center for Creative Arts, New Orleans, Louisiana] and my life changed overnight.$$How so?$$It was the first time in my life--and I'm not ashamed to say this--it was the first time in my life I wanted to go to school every day. I'll never forget, it hit me, you know, really hard because I was sick, I had like a flu and I was getting out of bed to get dressed and my mom [Wilhelmina Ray Blanchard] was like, "Boy, where are you going?" I'm like, "Ma, I gotta go to school," 'cause I know we were gonna be learning, I was learning something every day, you know, about music and I loved it, man, I, I loved it. I, I, I can't tell you how much, Dr. Bert Braud was my theory and analysis and composition instructor and he would challenge us, you know, to no end. And he would do things like, hey, man, you know, he knew I wanted to be a writer and he said, "Well, listen, man, you may be called upon in a session, you may have to write this horn line for five horns, all right, you got five minutes," (snaps fingers), "go do it." You know, and he would do things like that. And then he'd say, "Oh, listen, you may be in a session one place where you have to write out something so look I'm gonna give you thirty minutes to write out a whole tune, just give me the lead sheet." I'm like, "Thirty minutes?" He said, "Go" (snaps fingers). You know, and then we would, we would do things like serious analysis, you know, we'd sit down and break down, Liszt [Franz Liszt] 'Piano Concerto No. 2.' You know, and we'd sit down and have to go through the whole thing and break it down, what's the first theme, second theme, transitional phrases, and all of that stuff, what is this, what is the correct form of the piece, whether it's sonata-allegro form, all of those things. And I was doing that when I was fifteen, sixteen years old, you know. So I was like in a whirlwind. And the other thing I felt like was--see I only went to NOCCA for my junior and my senior year and most kids were going from sophomore so I felt like I was behind, so that's another reason why I didn't wanna miss 'cause I saw what it was doing for me, you know. And I'm, I'm always talking about NOCCA because they didn't sugarcoat things. They used to tell us. Well, the- they told us at orientation, they said, "Look around." They said, "After the first half of the year, half of y'all are not gonna be here." 'Cause they put you out if you didn't have, if your grades weren't up, you couldn't go. And they were right. My theory class had, when I first got there maybe it was, it was still relatively small, maybe it was about twenty, twenty-five people, at the end of that Christmas break, come back, it was only about ten or twelve of us.$$Wow.$$Yeah, no, they were no joke.

Philip Cohran

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.

Accession Number

A2006.158

Sex

Male

Interview Date

12/11/2006 |and| 1/18/2007

Last Name

Cohran

Maker Category
Occupation
Schools

Lincoln University Laboratory High School

Lincoln University

First Name

Philip

Birth City, State, Country

Oxford

HM ID

COH02

Favorite Season

Birthday

State

Mississippi

Favorite Vacation Destination

Chicago, Illinois

Favorite Quote

A Man Gets Worked On By What He Works On.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

5/8/1927

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Grits

Death Date

6/28/2017

Short Description

Trumpet player Philip Cohran (1927 - 2017 ) played trumpet, zithers and harp in Sun Ra’s cutting edge, "Astral Infinity Arkestra," and was the founding director of the Afro-Arts Theatre in Chicago. He also formed The Artistic Heritage Ensemble, which served as a basis for the group Earth, Wind and Fire.

Employment

Jay McShann's Band

Rajas of Swing

Afro-Arts Theater

Sun Ra Arkestra

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
0,0:1910,31:2950,56:3350,64:5110,85:7270,169:11670,259:14150,310:17590,376:29538,557:50930,820:57542,939:87966,1370:92782,1482:101267,1616:101682,1622:124034,1931:126614,1993:133440,2066:136560,2133:144080,2268:145200,2300:146400,2317:173220,2624:175090,2702:188349,3006:194043,3104:197182,3185:199153,3228:199445,3233:199737,3238:200029,3243:204442,3272:204754,3277:205222,3285:205612,3291:211306,3409:217858,3528:232660,3698:237866,3774:239042,3795:241142,3903:254252,4015:255008,4025:257344,4040:294788,4759:295280,4777:297330,4806:300730,4827$0,0:14375,217:24710,329:26856,372:32110,489:32776,499:36624,562:54275,816:83150,1207:84110,1224:84430,1229:84990,1238:85390,1244:86350,1261:91630,1361:102012,1482:105491,1552:108686,1725:108970,1730:140060,2256:148299,2426:173905,2763:183505,2982:207580,3281:218760,3427
DAStories

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

DASession

2$2

DATape

6$10

DAStory

6$7

DATitle
Philip Cohran remembers inventing the frankiphone, pt. 2
Philip Cohran describes the response to the closure of the Afro-Arts Theater, pt. 2
Transcript
And so I walked the streets of Chicago [Illinois], like from my house on 75th Street down to the library [South Shore Branch, Chicago, Illinois] on the lakefront, and I would play these thumb pianos with me. And that energy field that's in there would get so deep in my mind that I had to play that instrument sometimes two weeks, I couldn't turn it loose. It was almost like drugs. And I realized how strong music is. What had been happening to me is that we had been playing shallow music, it wasn't strong enough. Sun Ra's music was strong, but even his music wasn't strong enough. It was his spirit that made the music so strong, and his energy that he applied to the music. But the music itself has energy, and that's what I was exploring. That's why I play string instruments and instruments with specific tuning, because I understand now the field, the energy field that comes out of what people call modes. See, I was the one that started that. Sun Ra did it, Clark Terry did it. Other people did it, but they didn't understand it. I explored it. I dealt with the scientific breakdown of it. I went into the ancient tuning system. I saw what other people did. I read Plato and Pythagoras; I read the whole manual by Zollino [ph.]. So, I worked to get some type of understanding. And I think because of the hard work that I did, the ancestors just let me see the whole picture. And so, I began to write out of that picture, and I had a picture like Sun Ra (laughter). He was space and place, but I was earth. And that's why I had to leave, because I saw that I was diametrically opposed to what he was doing, while respecting him at the utmost for his genius and the fact that they opened me up and gave me an opportunity to see life on a higher level. Now that frankiphone, everything I do, I try to improve. And so anything that I make--like I made this stuff right here. Anything that I make, I see a better way the next time. But if it turns me on, I'll go ahead and do it. But I'm always trying to improve, you know. At seventy-nine, I'm still trying to improve. And I've learned some things this year that I didn't know before. Now that's how the frankiphone came about.$$Okay.$$But it had to be based on my concept of music, not general music. You go to school and learn music, this is this and that is that. That ain't worth a damn for creating anything (laughter).$$Okay. Now the frankiphone, in terms of chronology, that comes like--is that before Sun Ra or after Sun Ra, or during--$$After that.$$After.$$And during--you know, because we were all creating. Marshall [Marshall Allen] had created a clarinet that has a flute--no, it had a flute with a clarinet mouthpiece. Yeah, it was called the fluziphone [sic. flutophone] or something. And it got a good sound, and he could play that, you know. Marshall is a tremendous musician. All these guys were dedicated to music for life. People are not like that now. They want to be famous. They want to be, you know, they want to get on TV. I don't care if I ever get on TV. I'm trying to generate the music in my heart that draws beautiful people to my presence, you understand, to give me a better circumstance of life. Because that's what, what I'm emanating is what will come back. What do they say, what goes around, comes around.$$Okay, so--$$So, let's get on back to the why?$$All right, so--$$I had to define music for myself. So, I went back to a single note. And I don't want to write a book on it, but I will tell you that David Baker, our distinguished musician at Indiana University [Bloomington, Indiana] in '69 [1969] told me that he wanted to dedicate a chapter of his book to me. And I let him have an interview, just like you. And then one day I was teaching a class maybe ten or twelve years later, and a student said, "That's what David Baker's got in his book." (Laughter) So then I didn't have time. So then I got the book and found out he didn't mention my name (laughter).$$So he took the concepts, but not the--$$Not only him, everybody else. Who, who else originated modal concepts? Name one that you know.$$You got me (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Don't tell me Coltrane [John Coltrane], because he was all into chords.$$I'm a not a music theorist, anyway.$$Yeah, okay (laughter).$$That's above my--$$Well, a lot of people out there consider themselves composers. But they're not; they're copiers. They go--and then in the business, they're total thieves. They pay people to go and steal. I've seen them in my rehearsal. I can tell their energy the minute they step in the door. They come to hear my rehearsal, you know, so they can take something back to their studio. Well, none of the studio people dealt with me. I dealt with my music like Sun Ra. But it was so strong, the thing that it did, it pushed other people into doing it.$Now, when this thing was supposed to go down, the guys accused me of all kind of things. I didn't really get a complete charge, but everybody said I was doing something wrong, and that I was wrong. I can just take it from what I read about J. Edgar Hoover, that they tell all kind of lies on people. And I found down through the years that it's easy to believe a lie on a black person, because they're the ones who's the object of all the lies, all right. So then we split up right there, because I demand integrity in my life. And I told them that I had picked each one of them up in giving them the best of what I knew. I had taught them musical techniques, and I had taught them things about living that I would never go back on. To me, it was the truth. So I just said, "You can have all this, if you think it's more important than being truthful, okay." So they took my Malcolm [Malcolm X] picture right there that day just to hurt me, you know. So, they, I got all my stuff out and I left the PA [public address] system there. And I went and moved out to the St. John Grand Lodge [M.W. St. John's Grand Lodge, Chicago, Illinois] (laughter). But all the time that I was there in the theater, there was this energy that came from the young people. The Four Corner Rangers [sic. Blackstone Rangers], they didn't know nothing. But they stopped the wine heads from coming on the street. Some of the other Rangers stopped people from smoking. You know, people began to become aware that they could make a difference. And so, I was very appreciative of that. And I moved back up to my little apartment and started doing my thing as Phil Cohran [HistoryMaker Philip Cohran]. Well, the public didn't know what had happened, but they were told a lot of negative stuff, too. I saw friends of mine who wouldn't even speak to me. And so, it was a thing. But the Afro-Arts Theater [Chicago, Illinois] lasted all the way into '69 [1969]. I don't know what month it was, because Sammy Davis, Jr. came to the theater and we gave a performance for him. He said, "I'm going to come back in the fall and give you a house, you know, and that'll give you a boost." So, he couldn't get back in the fall, so he used Finis Henderson, his agent, to give the Pharaohs, because when I left [the Artistic Heritage Ensemble] they called themselves the Pharaohs, and copied my compositions and my songs. Fortunately, I hadn't taught them very much. I just played for them and made, you know, gave them the keys to playing together. But I didn't teach them the whole concept. And so, they couldn't go very far with what I had. They were good musicians and they were all dedicated, and they had played my music, but they didn't know the formulas. And I'm so glad that happened. I wanted so much during that summer to teach them performance, but we were just performing day and night; we didn't have time. And that's what it was. In '69 [1969], in the summer of '69 [1969] after I had split with them for over more than a year--but I talked with them and worked with them. I even held a fundraiser there, because it didn't bother me. I never bother about what is not true. And they can say whatever I did, it didn't bother me. And once I finished with those guys, one of them lost his mind. Well, I won't say that. He appeared to have lost his mind, and I don't see any remnants of recovery. But I thought they took some deep things, okay, some deep hits.