Kelan Phil Cohran & Legacy – African Skies

African Skies

Kelan Phil Cohran & LegacyAfrican Skies (1999)

An eclectic and cool album from shamefully neglected Chicago musician Phil Cohran and his group Legacy.  Cohran was a one-time member of Sun Ra‘s Arkestra and a co-founder of the long-running and influential AACM organization.  African Skies was recorded live in 1993 at the Adler Planetarium in Chicago.  “White Nile” and “Blue Nile” are calm and fragile songs, with lots of strings, including harps — reminiscent of Brother Ah‘s Key to Nowhere. “Cohran Blues” has an almost rag-style beat, and it probably wouldn’t surprise if Leon Redbone had popped in for a vocal.  “The Dogon” features Cohran on his Frankiphone (his custom modified African thumb piano), which will take some listeners back to songs like “The Minstrel” from Cohran’s classic On the Beach with the Artistic Heritage Ensemble.  “Kilimanjaro” gets to that distinctive Cohran rhythmic style.  All this music takes influence from around the world. It’s an approach a little like Don Cherry but more composed.  It’s wonderful to see so many Cohran recordings in print on CD.  These things are more available now than ever.