Drummer-Composer Peter Kogan Releases Just Before Midnight
With Just Before Midnight, his fourth album since 2013, the constantly evolving and very productive drummer-composer Peter Kogan delivers another far- ranging feast of originals (and a knowing arrangement of Cedar Walton’s classic Hindsight). All the qualities that made Kogan’s previous albums attractive — sophisticated-yet-accessible compositions, great players and soloists, and just enough quirkiness to make it interesting and fun — are here again, in abundance.
Kogan is the rare percussionist who has been able to travel back and forth between jazz, rock, and blues idioms and the classical world. He jobbed around New York City with jazz, rock, and blues bands (along the way backing up blues masters Lightnin’ Hopkins, Floyd Jones, and Honeyboy Edwards, and gigging with the Larry Elgart Orchestra) but could also stand behind a set of timpani in a concert hall with a major symphony orchestra. This kind of versatility — and crossover — is quite exceptional for a percussionist.
Kogan did stints with the Cleveland Orchestra, the Pittsburgh Symphony, and the Honolulu Symphony before landing a spot with the highly esteemed and Grammy-winning Minnesota Orchestra, where he served as principal timpanist for 29 years. But classical training and employment never dimmed his love of jazz, which reaches back to his childhood. This latest chapter in Kogan’s musical career — as a jazz drummer and bandleader — brings him full circle, back to the music that originally inspired him to play the drums.
On this recording, Kogan uses groups of varying sizes, from a quartet up to a septet (he dubs the seven-piece group his “Monsterful Wonderband”) to give voice to his finely conceived compositions. His band has also become something of an incubator for young talent. For the most part, the crew on this CD definitely skews younger, but these musicians handle the challenging material with confident mastery.
Remember the names — I’m sure you’ll be hearing more about these outstanding musicians in the future, if you haven’t already.
One thing to understand about this record:
Each of these songs is a fully realized composition that takes you on a little trip, through changing moods and feelings, “sights” and sounds. While there are some stylistic nods to classic Blue Note and Impulse recordings of the 1960s, Kogan never falls back on the easy but tired formula of “Song/Bunch of solos over the song’s chord progression/Song once more and out.” More like a series of trips to a wide variety of destinations. Definitely worth taking the whole tour!
1 Pow, Pow, Pow, Pow — Yeah! quintet 5:55
2 Just Before Midnight (Etude #3) septet 7:26
3 Owed To J.C. (Ode To John Coltrane) quartet 1 8:14
4 Isle Of Kai septet 8:58
5 ...And Another Thing (Etude #1) quintet 6:04
6 I Dream of Danny Playing Guitar quartet 2 6:20
7 Hindsight sextet 5:43
8 “The Winter Of Our Discontent” (Etude #2) septet 7:09
9 Song Without A Word Dominic Cheli, solo piano 4:59