Steve Cohn- Musician, Composer, Painter Music, art and poetry surge through the spirit of pianist & Shakuhachi innovator Steven Louis Cohn. Creatively he is unchained with a distinct virtuosity that has evolved over time. The unrestricted aspect of his improvisation has not confined him artistically. His talent has been admired and recognized by conventional outlets as well. Steve has conducted master classes at the Paris National Conservatory and has had his compositions commissioned for performance with the Wantanbe Dance Company in Japan. Cohn has been awarded performance grants from the NJ Council of the Arts, performed at ‘Ottawa Jazz Festival (’88 & 2000), Fiesta International USSR. Cohesively, Steve has worked with a number of well-renown musicians: Reggie Workman, Jason Hwang, William Parker Tom Varner, Fred Hopkins, Karl Berger, Oliver Lake, Barry Altschul; Bob Stewart. His invitation to be a part of the Movement meets Musician’s in Amsterdam infused dance and live painting with his music. Cohn’s journey is filled with intrigue and discovery as we chart his professional experience.

A San Francisco native, Steve began playing piano at the age of 8, while uncovering that he had a natural gift, he only became more serious about his craft as a teenager. Influenced by musicians such as Santana, Simon Garfunkel, The Supremes, Led Zeppelin & Howling Wolf Steve’s appreciation for a spectrum of music was imprinted from the start. Cohn’s early musical career began with a spontaneous introduction to the blues in high school. His concentration on creative expression was further piqued by Cohn’s arrival at UCLA in ‘71. The campus ethno-music program and multinational population ignited Steve’s fascination with world instruments. It ultimately led to his study of the Shakuhachi flute during his early undergraduate years. Cohn spent two years in Japan immersing himself in the culture. He later returned to the states and began studying classical piano & 20thmusic at San Francisco State University with Pulitzer Prize winner, Wayne Peterson. Here, he further cultivated his affinity for Jazz. Cohn’s brilliance gave way to collaborations with the likes of Sonny Simmons & Eddie Henderson.

When asked to explain his approach to music Cohn remarks, “We don’t plan the music you don’t have to contrive it stands on its own without having to say anything. With my music I know the theory but I start on an unconscious level.” Yearning to expand his musical direction and innovate, Cohn threw away his musical map and plunged totally into improvisational music. He moved to New York City in ‘82 which gave way to performance highlights in New York’s Miller Theater for the New Works October Series. He has also performed at The Newport JVC Festival, Sweet Basil, The Great American Music Hall; Greenwich Village Jazz Festival. The heights of Steve’s improvisation soared as he taught himself how to extend the margins of traditional Shakuhachi playing. That same impulsive element is at the origin of his art work. A packet of felt “Pentel” pens given to him by his mother sparked his desire to paint and sketch. His earliest drawings began with an abstract interpretation of tarot cards. Today, Steve has numerous oil pastels, ink, charcoal, and watercolor pieces in his gallery. Each one is filled with the variation, complexity and theoretical elements that trace his music. Some have compared Cohn’s sound to the sense of floating in space while watching meteors zoom by. The musical landscape in New York became saturated by the end of the 90’s and began to stifle Cohn’s ingenuity. Steve travelled to Europe where he ended up performing primarily in Paris with 2 trios under his leadership. The first one featured Bass Player Stefan Kereki. The other trio with Bass Player J.J. Avenel & on drums John Betsch. His European tour further included a 2008 Leiden Holland festival/ work-shops 2010-Prague Shakuhachi Festival. Steve has toured in Chicago 3 times from 2008-2011 working closely in concert venues and recording session with artist Jimmy Bennington, Guillermo Gregorio, Jeff Marx, Dushon Mosely among others. Most recently in, 2012 Cohn collaborated with producer Doc Holiday in Norfolk Virginia for the release of “Electric Jazz Opus in studio recording. Collectively, Steve’s untethered passion to stretch the musical landscape remains. His adventures in the arena of abstract continue. He is still innovating classical and jazz standards with novel interpretation. Cohn uncovers new levels of improvisation that cast intrigue. That is the magic of his legacy.

The paintings of Steve Cohn:

Selected Discography:

Sufi Dancers LP -released 1983 –White Cow Records

(Featuring Larry Hancock, Warren Gale, David Shrader, John Donnely)

Arts &Crafts -released 1984- White Cow Records

(Featuring Jay Elfenbein & Chuck Fertal)

Shapes, Sounds, Theories -released 1984 -Cadence Jazz Records

(Featuring Reggie Workman, Chuck Fertal)

Ittekimasu released LP 1989, White Cow Records *reissued CD 1991 by ITM Pacific

(Featuring Fred Hopkins & Thurman Barker)

Beggar and The Robot in Diamonds -released 1996, ITM Pacific

(Featuring Fred Hopkins, Jason Hwang, Tom Varner, Frank Lowe, Bob Stewart, William Parker, Karl Berger, Zen Matsuura)

Bridge over the X-Stream - released 2000, Leo Records

(Featuring Reggie Workman, Jason Hwang, Tom Varner)

Blair Recordings -released 2002, Leo Records

(Featuring Blair Hardman & Johnny DeRobertis)

Wire - released 2007, Konnex Records

(Featuring: Adam Lane, Ray Sage, Blaise Siwula & Motoko Shimizu)

Iro Iro - released 2008, Red Toucan Label

(Featuring: Masahiko Kono, Thomas Ulrich, Kevin Norton)


We -Unseen Rain Records Label through Meyefi Media (Featuring: William Parker and Tom Tedesco)

Round the World -Unseen Rain Records Label through Meyefi Media (Solo Piano)

Cowboy Film School -Unseen Rain Records Label through Meyefi Mediai (Featuring Bruce Ditmas, Tony Decicco, Chris Kelsey )

No Lunch in Hackensack -Unseen Rain Records Label through Meyefi Media (Featuring Jimmy Bennington)

Electric Jazz Opus -released 2012, Cause Attention Records- (Produced by & collaboration with Doc Holiday)