Ryan Cohan's recording debut as a leader is an impressive one on his CD Here and Now. Cohan has been an active participant on the jazz scene since his graduation from DePaul in 1993. He credits composer/arranger Cliff Colnot and jazz educator David Bloom as important influences on his approach. Bloom's influence is evident as the free-flowing blowing abounds on this record, and Colnot makes his influence known with the meticulously controlled horn parts (i.e., tight voicings, dynamic variation, and variety of combinations).
Cohan is a fine pianist who (to these ears) has listened to plenty of Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, and McCoy Tyner. You can't go wrong there. And, on this CD (recorded in 2000 at Hinge Studio in Chicago with recording engineer Steve Weeder's usual delicate touch), he has surrounded himself with a fine array of musicians, using them in different combinations. There is great playing, particularly from the horns: Bob Sheppard (the only non-Chicagoan horn player), Jim Gailloreto, Geof Bradfield, and Scott Burns on saxes and flutes, and Tito Carrillo on trumpet.
Contributing on percussion are Ruben Alvarez and Dede Sampaio, the bassists are Lorin Cohen and Jim Commack (playing in his usual pedal-to-the-metal style), and sharing the drum duties are Dana Hall and Tom Hipskind (one of my favorite Chicago-based drummers).
But Cohan's writing is really the star of this show. With each tune tightly arranged into its own mini-epic, one senses that composer of these ten original tunes has a seemingly inexhaustible supply of ideas.