Al Cohn

Al Cohn

American jazz saxophonist, arranger and composer
Date of Birth: 24.11.1925
Country: USA

  1. Biography of Al Cohn
  2. Early Career and Woody Herman Band
  3. Collaboration with Zoot Sims
  4. Arranging and Later Career

Biography of Al Cohn

Alvin Gilbert Cohn, known as Al Cohn, was an American jazz saxophonist, arranger, and composer. He gained recognition in the late 1940s, playing in Woody Herman's second band from 1948 to 1949. Born on November 24, 1925, in Brooklyn, New York, Cohn quickly established himself as a talented musician.

Al Cohn

Early Career and Woody Herman Band

Cohn's rise to fame began when he joined Woody Herman's band in the late 1940s. He replaced Herbie Steward in the legendary "Four Brothers" ensemble, which included Zoot Sims, Stan Getz, and Serge Chaloff. Unlike Sims and Getz, who were renowned tenor saxophonists, Cohn distinguished himself as a lyrical soloist and specialized in arranging.

Al Cohn

Collaboration with Zoot Sims

After leaving Herman's band, Cohn continued to perform with various musicians. However, his most notable and long-lasting collaboration was with Zoot Sims, another veteran of Woody Herman's band. They formed a quintet together in 1956, and even after the quintet disbanded, Cohn and Sims occasionally performed together until Sims' death. Their joint recordings, such as the 1960 album "You 'n' Me" released by Mercury Records, are considered a culmination of their partnership. They also participated in some recordings with writer Jack Kerouac, a great jazz and bebop enthusiast, and pianist Mose Allison.

Arranging and Later Career

In addition to his work as a jazz tenor saxophonist, Cohn was renowned for his talent as an arranger. He worked on classic Broadway productions such as the musical "Raisin," which was an adaptation of Lorraine Hansberry's novel "A Raisin in the Sun," and "Sophisticated Ladies," a revue based on Duke Ellington's music. From the early 1980s, Cohn also did arrangements for Linda Ronstadt's unreleased recordings, when she transitioned from country music to jazz and Broadway performances.

In June 1972, Al Cohn performed alongside Elvis Presley as a member of the "Joe Malin Orchestra" during the King of American Rock 'n' Roll's concert at Madison Square Garden. Cohn's first wife was singer Marilyn Moore, and his son Joe Cohn became a well-known jazz guitarist. Al Cohn passed away on February 15, 1988, in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, at the age of 62.