Kelan Phil Cohran and the Legacy of Sun Ra

Millenium Park, Chicago,IL
August 14, 2008

Story and Photos by James Walker

What a beautiful spectacle on the mammoth Pritzker Pavilion stage convened by the youthful 80 year old Kelan Phil Cohran, disciple of the legendary extravagant band leader, Sun Ra. Although this program was billed as a tribute to the excentric Sun Ra, it was more of a celebration of different generes of music that was a product of Cohran's vivid imagination and creativity.

Beautifully attired in white and multi-color outfits, this rainbow picture was a photographer's dream.Included on stage was a spirited choir, a brass ensemble, graceful dancers, and Cohran's led ensemble with harp , cello, african jimba in addition to the traditional ensemble instruments. Throughout the proceedings , Cohran shared anecdotes of his experience as a trumpeter in Sun Ra's Arkestra.

There was something for everyone at this concert.If one attended this concert expecting the typical "unexpected" that was associated with Su Ra, they surely were disappointed. Instead, as described by Cohran, this would be more of a global musical celebration than a tribute with Sun Ra's music. Only one of Sun Ra's numbers was performed and that was "Fate in a Pleasant Mood" written by Sun Ra for Cohran.

In addition to the instrumentialists, a native American dancer performed, an "African " dance was rendered with small children taking part. The Hypnotic Brass Band's performance was reminiscent of a Black College Band's sound, and The Rev. Booker Lagrone provided a traditional spiritual song that originated in Africa.

The finale was spectacular with many of the ensenble members converging onto the stage dancing the night away.

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