Motéma recording artist Ryan Cohan is a composer of keen intellect and a powerfully expressive pianist. Recognized for his “ingenuity and virtuosity” (Chicago Tribune), his versatility and inventive vision have distinguished him as a vital original voice amongst the elite pianist/composers in today’s global music scene.
Cohan’s expansive body of work ranges from solo piano pieces to arrangements for symphony orchestra and scores for independent films. He has produced five critically acclaimed albums of original compositions: Real World (Real World Music); Here and Now (Sirocco Jazz); One Sky (Motéma), named one of the year’s best recordings by the Chicago Tribune and a number of jazz publications; Another Look (Motéma), hailed as “a model for modern jazz piano albums” by ICON magazine; and The River (Motéma) which features Ryan’s sixty minute suite inspired by his travels in Africa. Described by JazzTimes as “Cohan’s most ambitious and important work to date”, The River was performed at Millennium Park in Chicago to a crowd of over 8,000 and the recording and live concert was selected for several prominent ‘Best of 2013′ music lists in national publications.
Originations is Cohan’s latest original and soon-to-be-recorded multi-movement composition. Scored for a chamber jazz ensemble consisting of Cohan’s long-standing sextet plus string quartet, Originations dynamically synthesizes Middle Eastern and other World music influences, classical compositional elements and improvisation.
Cohan has embarked upon multiple U.S. Department of State-sponsored tours in partnership with Jazz at Lincoln Center as part of The Rhythm Road program. Leading his quartet, Cohan traveled across Africa, Eastern Europe and the Middle East performing and collaborating with local musicians with the mission of fostering empathy and connection between cultures through music.
A Chicago native, Cohan has worked with such jazz luminaries and world-class ensembles as Freddie Hubbard, Joe Locke, Andy Narell, Jon Faddis, Paquito D’Rivera, Kurt Elling, Gregory Porter, Victor Lewis, Bob Cranshaw, Jeff Hamilton, Steve Wilson, The Chicago Symphony Orchestra, MusicNOW Ensemble, Orbert Davis’s Chicago Jazz Philharmonic, The Grant Park Symphony Orchestra with Otis Clay and The Chicago Chamber Musicians among others. Both as a sideman and fronting his various ensembles, Cohan has performed at premier venues worldwide. He has collaborated extensively with Ramsey Lewis, contributing more than twenty compositions and arrangements to the NEA Jazz Master’s repertoire and penning the theme song for his nationally syndicated television series, The Legends of Jazz. Cohan provided the orchestral writing for master vibraphonist Joe Locke’s live concert recording, Wish Upon A Star (Motéma) featuring Lincoln’s Symphony Orchestra, and early in 2017, he was commissioned to arrange music for The Scottish National Jazz Orchestra led by Tommy Smith.
In acknowledgment of his work thus far, Cohan has received the prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship in composition, Sundance Institute’s Feature Film Music and Sound Design Fellowship, three New Jazz Works commissioning grants from Chamber Music America and The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, The Aaron Copland Recording Grant, Composer Assistance Award from New Music USA and two Illinois Arts Council Fellowships.
As an educator, Ryan held the position of Artist-in-Residence at The University of Louisville School of Music’s Jamie Aebersold Jazz Studies Program and Purdue Univeristy and has been on the music faculty at the University Of Illinois at Chicago, The Skidmore Jazz Institute in New York and taught as a mentor for the Jazz Institute of Chicago. He has also worked extensively as an artist clinician at dozens of universities, high schools and other notable music programs locally, throughout the U.S and abroad.