Phil Cohran and Legacy – African Skies (2010, Captcha Records)

Posted in music by okkame on January 5, 2011


Bass Clarinet – Aquilla Sadalla
Congas – Kelan Phil Cohran*
Double Bass [Piccolo String Bass] – Oscar Brown III
Double Bass [String Bass] – Malik Cohran , Oscar Brown III
Flute – Aquilla Sadalla , Josefe Marie Verna , Malik Cohran , Oscar Brown III , Kelan Phil Cohran*
Guitar – Aquilla Sadalla , Malik Cohran , Kelan Phil Cohran*
Harp – Kelan Phil Cohran*
Harp [Classical] – Josefe Marie Verna
Kalimba [Frankiphone] – Kelan Phil Cohran*
Trombone – Josefe Marie Verna
Trumpet – Kelan Phil Cohran*
Ukulele [Violin Uke] – Kelan Phil Cohran*
Vocals – Aquilla Sadalla



In intaking african soul food, I, an effusively americanized boho scum, prefer upright vendors in the states to the genuine folks from the sooty continent, bushels of which can be now handily accessed by the endeavors of labels like Honest Jons and Mississippi Records.

In other words, the efforts by African-Americans to trace, explore,  and eventually amalgamate ancestral spirits, into their turbulent present life, with Sun Ra (read this illuminating Blatstitude article on Sun Ra’s mythology) being the most active and outstanding practitioner of this profession, draw my interest more than any indigenous discovery does. I regard, amid all the outcomes including stuffs that have yet to come into my clutches, the opuses of Eddie Gale and Phil Cohran – not by coincidence both of whom were disciples of Sun Ra – as the essential artefacts to experience the supernal blackness. In their quickening and spellbinding muscial pilgrimage, sacredly emulated african elements are absored and nurtured into the idiom of American Modern Music (why “Modern”, instead of “Jazz”?; The topographical specificity was ignored for the sake of convenience and effectivity) to articulate the concordant, unifying and liberating force of their soulful cries and beatfication. It’s a physicalization of imagined and dreamed spiritual vistas yet it contains the truthfulness and immediacy of their beet-clear blood seething underneath their solemnly dark skin.


African Skies is the new work from the aforementioned Phil Cohran. Recorded in 1993, it doesn’t possess somewhat agitative grittiness of his earlier music, instead, it’s full on utopian longing and blithe celebrating of Past, Present, and Future through which they float and wander. Scaled down but compact and solid, his ensemble displays with ease a multifaceted joyfulness of music with confident yet unassuming musicianship.

The Harp, distinctly occidental instrument, appearing on some tracks, beautifully arpeggioed, renders fantastical fairytale or myth-like atmospheres, breezy, at times plaintive. “Theme” is a bit evocative of the music of Reich and Glass thanks to steadily oscillating string sounds from a bowed double bass or two (Yikes! I hope not many people have seen the previous version of this paragraph. I was so blinded by my finding that I lost a sense of discernment. I hate it !). “Cohran Blues” is especially amusing because of its jovial and mischievous Mingus-ness. And you know, when the Frankiphone kicks in, it all goes afro. And tasty morsels of bellowing black women can’t be missed in your sound-biting.


Captcha Records is a cool hipster music label based in chicago. They’re termbo-ing.



In 1993, shortly after the death of Herman Blount (Sun Ra), Phil Cohran and his band, Legacy, composed an inspired and inspiring tribute to his close friend and former mentor. As you may be aware, Cohran records are few and far between. Aside from the more recent reissue of his Zulu 45s collection, ‘African Skies’ is his first new record to be released since his 1969 Malcolm X memorial. This fact only serves to cement its lofty status as “a nuanced portrait of one of the most visionary musicians of our time…”. Channelling the spirit of his cosmic brother, Cohran brings us closer to enlightenment through eight sublime songs glowing with reverent spirit and positive, utopian energies. Utterly amazing stuff, for your soul.



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  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Mugalialiali. Mugalialiali said: RT @DreamsInAudio: Loving this Phil Cohran record. Beautiful stuff form 1993. […]

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