Born: June 6, 1971 Primary Instrument: Piano
Motéma recording artist and Guggenheim Fellow Ryan Cohan has distinguished himself as a vital original voice to be heard amongst the elite young pianist/composers on the global music scene today. Leading his own groups and as a sideman, Ryan has performed at premier venues worldwide and has worked with such jazz luminaries and stellar ensembles as Freddie Hubbard, Curtis Fuller, Joe Locke, Paquito D’Rivera, Bob Cranshaw, Victor Lewis, Jeff Hamilton, Orbert Davis and The Chicago Jazz Philharmonic, Kurt Elling, Jon Faddis, Pat La Barbera, Andy Narell, Regina Carter, Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s MusicNOW Ensemble, The Chicago Jazz Ensemble, The Grant Park Symphony Orchestra, Otis Clay, and The Chicago Chamber Musicians among many others. Ryan has written extensively for and toured with NEA Jazz Master Ramsey Lewis, contributing more than a dozen pieces to several of Mr. Lewis’s albums and the theme music to Lewis’s nationally syndicated television show The Legends Of Jazz. Recently, Ryan penned orchestral arrangements for Joe Locke’s live concert recording, Wish Upon A Star (Motéma Music) featuring Lincoln’s Symphony Orchestra and recorded with Locke’s quartet for his latest CD release, Lay Down My Heart: Blues and Ballads, Vol. 1.
The Ryan Cohan Quartet was twice selected for Jazz at Lincoln Center’s highly competitive Rhythm Road program which was cosponsored by the U.S. Department of State. Consequently, his group embarked on multiple extended tours in Africa, Europe and The Middle East as cultural ambassadors. Ryan has produced four critically acclaimed albums of all original compositions: Real World (Real World Music, 1997); Here and Now (Sirocco Jazz, 2001); One Sky (Motéma Music, 2007) which was hailed as one of the best recordings of the year by the Chicago Tribune and many other journals; and Another Look (Motéma Music, 2010) called “a model for modern jazz piano albums” by ICON magazine. The River, Ryan’s fifth CD featuring a concert length suite inspired by his travels in Africa that was performed at Millennium Park in Chicago to a crowd of over 8,000, will be released early summer 2013 by Motéma Music.
As a prolific writer for over twenty years, Ryan has created original works ranging from solo piano pieces to full orchestral arrangements and has scored two independent films. In recognition of his work, Ryan has received the prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship For Composition, three grant awards from Chamber Music America, The Aaron Copland Recording Grant, two Illinois Arts Council Fellowships, the Composer Assistance grant from American Music Center and three creative arts grants from The City Of Chicago. As an educator, Ryan has been on the faculty of The Skidmore Jazz Institute in New York, The Bloom School Of Jazz, held the position of assistant director of jazz ensembles at the University Of Illinois at Chicago and continues to work as an artist clinician at universities and high schools throughout the U.S and abroad.