21 July 2015
Tal Cohen the 2015 Freedman Jazz Fellow
© Shane Rozario
Pianist Tal Cohen has won this year's Freedman Jazz Fellowship after the finalists' showcase on Monday 20 July at the Sydney Opera House Studio. The other three finalists were saxophonists Peter Farrar and Mike Rivett, and vocalist Gian Slater. Tal Cohen performed with Jamie Oehlers (saxophone), Cameron Undy (bass) and Tim Firth (drums). The Freedman Jazz concert was recorded by ABC Jazz for broadcast later this year.
The Freedman Jazz prize involves a $15,000 cash prize which Cohen will use to record an album or original compositions and arrangements in New York. This year, the winner will also be offered three days in the ABC recording studios to work on a project of their choice.
Tal Cohen grew up in Israel, and his piano style is said to reflect his early years, with influences of Jewish folk songs and classical music. He moved to Perth at the age of 16, embarked on music studies and graduated from the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts with a Master's degree in jazz performance. In 2010, he toured Australia with the Jamie Oehlers Quartet and has since appeared with Oehlers multiple times, alongside other Australian and international artists. In 2012, Cohen and Oehlers toured Australia with New York drummer Ari Hoenig, and Sam Anning on bass, and recorded the album Smoke and Mirrors. Cohen's first album as a leader, Yellow Sticker (with Oehlers, Chris Tarr and Pete Jeavons), consisting largely of original tunes, was released in December 2011. In May 2013 he performed with the saxophonist Joe Lovano at the inaugural Perth International Jazz Festival.
Recently, Tal Cohen completed a Master's degree under the mentorship of Martin Bejerano at the University of Miami in the United States. In the US, he has appeared with the Grammy-winning trumpeter Terence Blanchard, and performed his own music at the 2014 Detroit Jazz Festival (as part of his first prize at the Barry Harris National Jazz Piano Competition). He also performed at the 2014 Perth Jazz Festival alongside the New York saxophonist Greg Osby. In the near future, Tal Cohen will be joining the Jamie Oehlers Quartet for their European tour.
© Australian Music Centre (2015) — Permission must be obtained from the AMC if you wish to reproduce this article either online or in print.
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