CHICAGO (CBS) — Playing the electric version of the African finger piano is known as the Kalimba, and it’s just one of the many musical achievements of a Rogers Park man who’s made an international mark on Jazz and the Black Arts Movement.
Phil Cohran, who turned 90 on Monday, first made his mark as an internationally acclaimed Jazz trumpeter. However, he soon realized he wanted to do more, and set out to spread awareness about how culture motivates the arts.
In the 60’s, Cohran helped bring the writings of Paul Laurence Dunbar into Chicago Public Schools in African American dialect, and it was Cohran who electrified the Kalimba and made it relatable to a new generation.
“Phil Cohran is really one of the seminal characters in the development of black music in Chicago and for our country,” said musician Kahil El’Zabar.
The Jazz Foundation of America and the Chicago Music Academy are presenting Cohran with a lifetime achievement award concert Monday night at St. Adalbert’s Church in Pilsen.