Phil Cohran

Kelan Phil Cohran, May 8, 1927 – June 28, 2017, was a jazz musician. He is best remembered for his role in the founding of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians. Cohran was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri. In the 1950s, he played trumpet with Jay McShann’s bands and later in a U.S. Navy group. John Gilmore introduced him to the Sun Ra Arkestra in 1959. He was featured on the albums Fate In A Pleasant Mood, Angels and Demons at Play and others. He played mostly trumpet, but also the zither and other stringed instruments. Cohran refused to go with the Arkestra when they moved from Chicago in 1961. He was a founding member of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians in 1965. With Pete Cosey, he formed the Artistic Heritage Ensemble, which included future members of Earth, Wind and Fire’s horn section and Motown’s percussionist “Master” Henry Gibson. He was already playing the harp and cornet, French Horn, French horn, baritone Saxophone, and percussion at this point. In 1967, the group recorded On the Beach. He invented the Frankiphone, or the Space Harp. It is an electrified Mbira or Kalimba that he used on several of Sun Ra’s first albums. Maurice White was inspired by this instrument to use an electrified Kalimba during performances with Earth, Wind, and Fire. Cohran stated that White and his brothers were taught music by him in their youth. This was similar to Joe Higgs’ tutelage of The Wailers. On the Beach features “New Frankiphone Blues” and the Frankiphone on its title track. Eight of Cohran’s sons are part of the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble. It consists of four trombones and two trombones as well as a sousaphone, drums, and one euphonium. Cohran was a teacher of voice and music at Northeastern Illinois University’s Center for Inner City Studies. From Wikipedia

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