Ryan Cohan Sextet | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Ryan Cohan Sextet 

Sign up for our newsletters Subscribe

Young Chicago pianist and composer Ryan Cohan offered us a taste of his music four years ago, with a self-produced debut called Real World; it's been a long wait for the sequel, Here and Now (Sirocco), but worth it. On nine new compositions, Cohan makes good on his early promise--his writing has leaped forward in maturity and command, while retaining his first album's healthy balance of tradition and innovation. His current sextet features trumpet and two woodwinds, and Cohan distinguishes himself with painterly use of the latter, most frequently pairing tenor or soprano sax with flute. His arrangements clearly take after the ambitious albums Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter made for Blue Note in the mid-60s--Speak Like a Child, The Soothsayer, The Prisoner--which also featured compact but versatile horn sections, often employing James Spaulding's flute for the same sort of emphatic color Cohan achieves. Cohan's group attracts attention by reviving the sound and shape of those classic (and somewhat underexamined) discs; it rewards that attention with the craftsmanship of Cohan's scoring and the unhurried development of his compositions. His piano work displays a similar patient artfulness, luxuriating in warm voicings and the generous use of space, but it takes a backseat to his writing--and the unfailingly appropriate horn solos it inspires. The sextet comprises mostly Chicago musicians, including drummer Dana Hall (who graces the compositions with an array of orchestral effects); the main soloist is the album's one ringer, west-coast reedist Bob Sheppard, who'll jet in for this extended weekend of CD-release appearances. Thursday, November 15, 7:30 PM, Columbia College Concert Hall, 1014 S. Michigan; 312-344-6179. Friday, November 16, 9 PM, and Saturday, November 17, 8 PM, Green Mill, 4802 N. Broadway; 773-878-5552. Sunday, November 18, 7:30 PM, Herman Crown Center, Roosevelt University, 425 S. Wabash; 312-341-2238. Monday, November 19, 8 and 10 PM, Jazz Showcase, 59 W. Grand; 312-670-2473.

Support Independent Chicago Journalism: Join the Reader Revolution

We speak Chicago to Chicagoans, but we couldn’t do it without your help. Every dollar you give helps us continue to explore and report on the diverse happenings of our city. Our reporters scour Chicago in search of what’s new, what’s now, and what’s next. Stay connected to our city’s pulse by joining the Reader Revolution.

Are you in?

  Reader Revolutionary $35/month →  
  Rabble Rouser $25/month →  
  Reader Radical $15/month →  
  Reader Rebel  $5/month  → 

Not ready to commit? Send us what you can!

 One-time donation  → 


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Neil Tesser

Agenda Teaser

Performing Arts
April 30
Performing Arts
June 26

Popular Stories