Al Cohn

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Al Cohn
Al Cohn.jpg
Al Cohn at the Village Jazz Lounge (L. Kolb)
Background information
Birth name Alvin Gilbert Cohn
Born (1925-11-24)November 24, 1925
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
Died February 15, 1988(1988-02-15) (aged 62)
Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, U.S.
  • Musician
  • composer
  • bandleader
Instruments Tenor saxophone
Years active 1940s–1980s
Associated acts

Al Cohn (November 24, 1925 – February 15, 1988)[1] was an American jazz saxophonist, arranger and composer. He came to prominence in the band of clarinetist Woody Herman and was known for his longtime musical partnership with fellow saxophonist Zoot Sims.


Alvin Gilbert Cohn was born in Brooklyn, New York.[1] He was initially known in the 1940s for playing in Woody Herman's Second Herd as one of the Four Brothers, along with Zoot Sims, Stan Getz, and Serge Chaloff. Unlike the better-known tenors Sims and Getz, Cohn contributed arrangements to the Herman band. Cohn had a reputation as a lyrical flowing soloist.[citation needed]

After leaving the Herman group Cohn went on to play with a variety of other musicians, but his best-known association was his long-term partnership with fellow Herman veteran tenor player Sims, beginning with the quintet they co-led in 1956. They continued to play together sporadically until the death of Sims. The high point of their recorded output can be found on You 'n' Me, a collection of standards and original compositions released on Mercury Records in 1960.[citation needed] The two also played on some of author Jack Kerouac's recordings. The rhythm section on their 1950s recordings included Mose Allison on piano.

In addition to his work as a jazz tenor saxophonist, Cohn was widely respected as an arranger. His work included the Broadway productions of Raisin' and Sophisticated Ladies, and his arrangements of his own compositions were recorded by big bands led by Maynard Ferguson, Gerry Mulligan, Terry Gibbs and Bob Brookmeyer. Also, Cohn did arrangements for unreleased Linda Ronstadt recordings from the 1980s.[2]

Cohn also appeared on stage with Elvis Presley in June, 1972, as a member of the Joe Malin Orchestra at Madison Square Garden.

Al Cohn died of liver cancer in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania in 1988.[1]

Cohn's first wife was singer Marilyn Moore. His son, Joe Cohn, is a jazz guitar player. Granddaughter Shaye Cohn, Joe's daughter, is a musician who plays cornet with her band Tuba Skinny in New Orleans and at jazz festivals in Italy and Australia and elsewhere. Shaye also plays accordion, violin and piano. Al Cohn was also briefly married to singer Mary Ann McCall. Al Cohn was married to Flo Handy, a singer and composer, from the mid-60’s until his death.


As leader/co-leader

As sideman

With Manny Albam

With Mose Allison

With Trigger Alpert

With George Barnes

With Art Blakey

With Bob Brookmeyer

With Kenny Burrell

With Buck Clayton

With Jimmy Giuffre

With Freddie Green

With Coleman Hawkins

With Quincy Jones

With Jack Kerouac

With Jimmy Knepper

With Mundell Lowe

With the Metronome All-Stars

With Gary McFarland

With Carmen McRae

With Gerry Mulligan

With Joe Newman

With Oscar Pettiford

With Lalo Schifrin and Bob Brookmeyer

As arranger

With Maynard Ferguson

With Astrud Gilberto

With Quincy Jones

With Irene Kral

With Gerry Mulligan

With Mark Murphy

With Joe Newman

With Herb Pomeroy


  1. ^ a b c - accessed November 2010
  2. ^ Bloom, Steve (July 1985). "An Intimate Conversation With Linda Ronstadt". Downbeat magazine.
  3. ^ "Bob Brookmeyer Featuring Al Cohn - Storyville Presents Bob Brookmeyer". Discogs.
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