Philip Cohran is a linchpin of Chicago's jazz world. He was a part of the Sun Ra Arkestra from 1959-1961 but declined to join them when they left Chicago. In 1965 Cohran was instrumental in the formation of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM). The AACM gave rise to artists like Anthony Braxton, Henry Threadgill, Leo Smith, the Art Ensemble of Chicago, and countless others. His Artistic Heritage Ensemble featured future Miles Davis guitarist Pete Cosey, Motown percussionist "Master" Henry Gibson and a few horn players that would go on to become a part of Earth, Wind and Fire. On The Beach is a collection of innovative and visionary material recorded by the Artistic Heritage Ensemble in the late 60s. The Ensemble combined elements of African rhythms, funk, and jazz improvisation in pieces that were structured around riffs and melodies created by Cohran's frankiphone, an amplified African thumb piano. Layer by layer horns, guitarists, singers, and percussionists add space and texture to the ever evolving songs. It's radical music that helped usher the past into the future, taking pieces of what came before to make something entirely original and new. This repress the Artistic Heritage Ensemble's first album includes two tracks never before on vinyl, a live version of "Unity," which plays out at a more languid pace than the original, and "Frankiphone Blues." The latter of the two pieces was the first modal blues according to Cohran. Whatever the case, it is a tremendous piece that features shifting harmonics over an expanding groove. Essential material.
- music label: Zulu Records 1967 / Pheelco Entertainment 2015
reviewed by Cool Hand 07/2015