Peter Kogan is a tympanist with the Minnesota Orchestra, whose musicians suffered a lockout from October 2012 to January 2014. Differences between musicians and management were eventually resolved, the budget has been balanced, and the Orchestra has come back with a vengeance, even traveling to Cuba. While the lockout was stressful for the musicians, Kogan used the time to explore his love of jazz and do some recording. The first result was the swinging Cornucopia, released last year, in which he proved himself to be a fine composer as well as jazz artist.
Now Kogan has a new CD, Some Monsterful Wonderthing, recorded during the same period of idleness from the Orchestra. In this latest release, he pays tribute to a number of inspirations including his colleagues in the Orchestra, the Save Our Symphony organization, Ellington, Monk, Muddy Waters, and others. Kogan displays a keen hand at composition and arrangement as he takes on sambas, second lines, blues, gospel, and more with outstanding results. Two of the songs on the album, Gospel Tune and McKinley Morganfield’s Forever, were written in the early eighties, while the other six were composed during the lockout period. The title tune uses two contrasting tempos, and with Brian Courage providing fleet solos to both open and close the piece, brings to mind some of the work of Charles Mingus.
Kogan propels the band through each piece using a a vast array of rhythms and percussive colors. Speaking of the band, Kogan gets stellar support from Charles Lazarus on trumpet and fluegelhorn, Pete Whitman on sax, Scott Agster on trombone, Brian Courage on bass, Sean Turner on piano, and Cory Wong on guitar. They fill the album with solos, fills, and flourishes that range from beautiful to blistering, resulting in a warm, elegant album that also features touches of ferocity. One can only hope that Kogan’s day job with the Orchestra doesn’t keep him from playing and recording more jazz.