Wednesday, May 09, 2007


80 Years Young! KPC shining on his Earth Day, Chicago May 2007.

Last night HYPNOTIC BRASS ENSEMBLE was privileged enough to play a private engagement for the boss of the bosses: the musical mystical Kelan Phil Cohran. In addition to throwing "octogenarian" on a resume that already includes multinstrumentalist, astronomer, educator, activist and Africanist—as well as boldface names like Sun Ra, EWF and Pete Cosey—KPC literally fathered HYPNOTIC. He's "Brother Phil" to a lot of people in Chicago and around the world, but he's "Pops" to Hudah, Cid, LT, Baji, Yosh, Clef, Rocco and Smoov.

So it was a good a homecoming as any when the band pulled out the brass to play "War" and the new song for their father at a South Side Chicago dining hall packed with family and close friends. As you'd expect the sound had more levels than usual and everyone in the place was overwhelmed by the irrevocable reality of it all—one man's lifetime of relentless struggle and restless perseverance made really real, not just in the flesh but multiplied ad infinitum and then blasted through the Now to suggest some future way for the people. Amiri Baraka once wrote he was "strong from years of fantasy and study" and at eighty years old Kelan Phil Cohran is a testament to that life of a visionary who never compromises, who never sold out.

At some point during the evening, a close family friend got on the mic and said that growing up she thought of the Cohran order as "back to Africa...the hard way." Thing is, when life is this rich, you sometimes forget how hard the way is.

UPDATE: KPC will be giving an "innerview" today via Swank Society. It's at 6:30pm Chi time (7:30pm NYC time)...Check it out!

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