Rachael Cohen

Rachael Cohen is a rising star alto saxophonist, composer and London-based alto. Her uncanny lyricism and infectious tone have earned her much attention both in the UK as well as abroad. The Guardian recently stated that Cohen has a softly devious approach, reminiscent of Lee Konitz. However, Emusic pointed out that Cohen’s lyrical and controlled phrasing is what makes her an excellent improviser. She tells stories with the ease and sophistication of someone twice her own age. Rachael, originally from the Shetland islands, began her musical education at the age of 4. Five years later, she picked up the saxophone and quickly gained a lot of experience and accolades. This ignited a passion for improvisation and helped her to pick up the instrument again. Miss Cohen was 12 years old when her family moved from the Shetlands to Edinburgh. She enrolled at the highly regarded City of Edinburgh Music School. She studied with many of the UK’s most respected musicians, including Martin Kershaw (saxophonist) and Lynda Cochrane (pianist). She was a star member of the Tommy Smith’s Youth Jazz Orchestra and the National Youth Jazz Orchestra of Scotland. Rachael was awarded a scholarship to The Birmingham Conservatoire’s Jazz Studies program to study with Jean Toussaint and Mike Williams, Hans Koller and the late Tony Levin. She also sought the guidance of touring artists Dave Holland and Lee Konitz, Phil Robson and Ingrid Laubrock during local performances. She was even the alto in John Hollenbeck’s big band project that featured the talents of Theo Bleckmann (New York) and Gary Versace (piano/organ). Rachael began her Conservatoire studies and immersed herself in Birmingham’s music scene. She composed for and performed with various ensembles, including Jim Bashford’s Trio and Nick Jurd’s Quartet. Her own groups were also featured at The Yardbird Jazz Club and Symphony Hall. Cohen would make a big change when she was awarded the “Stepping Up” Birmingham Jazz Grant in 2012. This grant allowed her to document her music. Cohen would make a strategic move from London to record Halftime on Whirlwind Records. This album was critically acclaimed and cemented her reputation as one of the most prominent new voices in jazz and improvised music. Halftime was released in November 2013 and features nine original compositions by Cohen as well as a cover of Ornette Coleman entitled ‘Just for You’. Cohen’s quartet includes longtime friend James Bashford, drummer, and bassist Calum Gourlay.

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