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Estar Cohen Raises Her Voice at Newport

ETAN ROSENBLOOM. ASCAP FOUNDATION. AUGUST 1, 2018

For the past three years, The ASCAP Foundation has partnered with the Newport Jazz Festival to give an exceptional Herb Alpert Young Jazz Composer Award recipient a chance to shine live at the venerable Festival. This year, the Herb Alpert judges chose ASCAP composer and vocalist Estar Cohen to bring her dynamic ensemble to the Storyville Stage for a set of open-minded original music. She joins another stellar lineup of ASCAP jazz talent, including Gregory Porter, Jon Batiste, Ambrose Akinmusire, Living Colour, Matthew Shipp, Anat Cohen, Tony Allen, Zakir Hussain and Roxy Coss (who came to Newport in 2016 as part of the ASCAP Foundation/Newport partnership). We caught up with Estar Cohen a week before her Newport debut.

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Cohen Lives Fully in All The Moments of Music

JEFF MILO. CURRENT MAGAZINE. FEBRUARY 20, 2019

“can’t hold on // I can feel time as it bends…” Just some lyrics from a composition called “Endings” by award-winning jazz vocalist Estar Cohen; and this propulsive image aptly fits for her music career, as each year since her 2015 graduation from the University of Toledo has gotten busier, faster, more exciting. You can add lyricist, arranger and educator to her resume, as well as award-winner: early in 2018, the ASCAP Foundation, in partnership with the Newport Jazz Festival, honored the Ypsilanti-based artist with the Herb Alpert Young Jazz Composer Award. When she isn’t teaching, writing her own solo work, or arranging music for her contemporaries, she also collaborates with A2-based ensemble Talking Ear.

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Estar Cohen Trio

LARS BJORN. SEMJA UPDATE. JANUARY, 2019

Vocalist Estar Cohen headed her trio at Ann Arbor’s Old Town on December 5 with keyboardist Galen Bundy and drummer Travis Aukerman. Cohen’s program was made up of standards and some of her own more daring compositions, no matter which she showed a distinctive approach to her material. Cohen was most effective on slower tempos, like Strayhorn’s “Passion Flower” or Monk’s “Ruby My Dear” where her perfect intonation was noticeable. Her voice is not large but her expressiveness, sincerity, and musical imagination are.

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Sylvania Native Cohen nationally recognized for her music

TOM HENRY. TOLEDO BLADE. AUGUST 19, 2018

"One of this area’s most promising up-and-coming jazz vocalists and composers, 25-year-old Estar Cohen, a Sylvania native and 2015 University of Toledo graduate now living in Ypsilanti, Mich., spares no adjectives when talking about the influence Hendricks had on her life during a couple of his final visits to UT classrooms while she was a music student there."

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Foundation award recipient Estar Cohen Performs at Newport Jazz Festival

ASCAP Foundation. August 1, 2018

The ASCAP Foundation and Newport Festivals Foundation continued their joint effort to benefit emerging jazz talent by featuring the 2018 ASCAP Foundation Herb Alpert Young Composer Award recipient, Estar Cohen, on the esteemed festival’s Storyville Stage on August 4th, 2018.

Newport Festivals Foundation Founder & Chairman George Wein commented, “The partnership between Newport Festivals Foundation and The ASCAP Foundation is forging the path forward for young jazz composers. We are delighted to continue our association for the third year with the jury’s selection of Estar Cohen, who is both a wonderful performer and composer, and represents what this partnership is all about."

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Estar Cohen Raises Her Voice at Newport

ETAN ROSENBLOOM. ASCAP FOUNDATION. AUGUST 1, 2018

For the past three years, The ASCAP Foundation has partnered with the Newport Jazz Festival to give an exceptional Herb Alpert Young Jazz Composer Award recipient a chance to shine live at the venerable Festival. This year, the Herb Alpert judges chose ASCAP composer and vocalist Estar Cohen to bring her dynamic ensemble to the Storyville Stage for a set of open-minded original music. She joins another stellar lineup of ASCAP jazz talent, including Gregory Porter, Jon Batiste, Ambrose Akinmusire, Living Colour, Matthew Shipp, Anat Cohen, Tony Allen, Zakir Hussain and Roxy Coss (who came to Newport in 2016 as part of the ASCAP Foundation/Newport partnership). We caught up with Estar Cohen a week before her Newport debut.

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Creative Dissection:'Talking Ear' Launches New Podcast

LORI STRATTON. MAY 21, 2018

For Talking Ear, the creative process is a personal and elusive one. It’s a place where all five members of the Ypsilanti-Toledo modern jazz quintet—Estar Cohen (vocals), Travis Aukerman (drums), Dan Palmer (guitar), Benjamin Maloney (piano) and Aidan Cafferty (bass)—meet to push their individual and collective growth as musicians. After releasing their self-titled debut album last summer, Talking Ear started searching for a way to take their creative growth beyond performing and recording.

“The last couple of years we’ve had these discussions continually about how do we connect with an audience and continue to challenge ourselves as an ensemble,” Cohen said. “We were focused on releasing the album and just kind of touring and using Facebook as a platform to try to reach new people. Then, Travis came up with the idea of the podcast and the song release every month.”

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A Lyrical Journey

LAURIE B. DAVIS. UNIVERSITY OF TOLEDO. MARCH 15, 2018

Alumna Estar Cohen believes she has found her true voice. Estar Cohen is one of 15 recipients of a 2018 Herb Alpert Young Jazz Composer Award. In addition to a cash award, Cohen and her fellow musicians, known as The Estar Cohen Project, will perform at the prestigious Newport Jazz Festival in August.

At a young age, Cohen’s songwriting siblings and popular folk artists Cat Stevens, Joni Mitchell, Nick Drake and Elliot Smith initiated her into music. By middle-school age she was composing her own songs. Her ear then became tuned to a whole different sound she heard at the former Murphy’s Place in Toledo. This local jazz club in her hometown drew young musicians, including Cohen, who sat in with pianist Claude Black and bassist Clifford Murphy. “They were extremely giving as teachers to young musicians,” says Cohen (Comm/Arts, Honors ’15).

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Risk-taking Jazz Vocalist Estar Cohen can add "award-winning" before her name now

CHRISTOPHER PORTER. PULP ANN ARBOR. FEBRUARY 27, 2018

Serendipity isn't something that just happens; you have to work on putting yourself in a position to make it happen. Jazz vocalist Estar Cohen puts in the work. "The Estar Cohen Project, formed in 2011, is a vehicle for my songwriting specifically," she said, while her fusion-tinged band Talking Ear is a collaborative project by musicians who first gathered at University of Toledo; her singing there is more akin to another instrument in the ensemble rather than that of a traditional vocalist. "[The Project] gives voice to my passion for storytelling through lyrics and highlights my great love of folk music as well as creative improvised music." 

With nary a standard in sight, Cohen wrote all six compositions featured on Live at Willis Sound. Her songs are spacious, impressionistic, and generous, allowing her fellow musicians -- saxophonist Patrick Booth, guitarist Dan Palmer, pianist Josh Silver, bassist Ben Rolston, and drummer Travis Aukerman -- plenty of room for expression.

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2018 ASCAP Foundation Herb Albert Young Jazz Composers Awards

Frank J. Oteri. newmusicbox. january 18, 2018

The ASCAP Foundation has announced the 15 recipients of the 2018 Herb Alpert Young Jazz Composer Awards as well as 7 additional honorable mentions. The program, which was established in 2002 to encourage young gifted jazz composers up to the age of 30, is named in honor of trumpeter/composer/bandleader Herb Alpert in recognition of The Herb Alpert Foundation’s multi-year financial commitment to support this program

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WGTE Rough Draft Diaries, 100th Episode

HALEY TAYLOR. ROUGHT DRAFT DIARIES. NOVEMBER 15, 2017

Haley Taylor interviews Estar for the 100th episode of Rough Draft Diaries. They talk about the personal nature of artistic process, and methods to deal with distraction in creative work. 

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A Night With Estar Cohen

JEFF MILO. deep cutz. AUGUST 17, 2017

You might have your own ideas about jazz, but Estar Cohen can likely shake them up for you.

“(Jazz) is a living, breathing art form that continues to gain new interpreters, new composers and new fan bases.”

Cohen’s voice is a vibrant, spirited entity, able to melodically sprint in staccato bursts over a more frenetic composition with rapidity and agility, and then spread out her intonations into longer measures with a sweeping elegance.

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River Street Anthology Project

MATT JONES. RIVER STREET ANTHOLOGY. DECEMBER 28, 2017

One thing that is nearly as awesome as hearing/seeing so many people play their songs, is getting to witness how people manage their nerves. Ypsilanti's Estar Cohen recorded her contribution for The River Street Anthology the hard way: performing with her 8-piece band live, in front of a dead-silent, full house at Cultivate Coffee & TapHouse in Ypsi. She confessed that she had only met one of her violinists earlier that day. There were maybe 3-4 feet between Estar and the nearest audience member, as well as Misty, Charles, Sarah, and myself bumbling around with our microphones, cameras, and pencils in the free space. Needless to say, I would have been barely restraining myself from screaming had the roles been reversed. She and her mini-orchestra then laid down a dynamic track of about 8 minutes in length. In one take. Perfectly. Some musicians are always one technical glitch away from total meltdown on stage. Others feel compelled to always let the audience know just how nervous they are- a disclaimer that serves as sort of a "nowhere to go but up"-type security blanket. Others just keep breathing, trying not to think too much about the potential crash-and-burn, and just doing the thing they love. That last is the feeling I got from Estar, and many other contributors to the RSA. Sarah calls it "singing to the universe," and I love it. Then I don't get nervous for anyone, and all there is, is the song. Epic night. Epic performance. Thanks so much for coming, Estar.

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Song Premier: Talking Ear's Face It

JEFF MILO. DEEP CUTZ. MAY 25, 2017

It's far too rare that I can engage with a piece of jazz music. And this one is an odyssey, a stir of different styles, sensibilities, era's and experimentation. Talking Ear sumptuous soul with an avant-garde modernism, splashes of Spanish guitar, lavish piano cascades, intricate percussion, and a mesmerizing vocal performance. This blog often covers indie-rock, hip-hop or electronica, but let's listen to Talking Ear's new single, "Face It."


The Estar Cohen Project to debut unique concept performance at the TMA

JORDAN KILLAM. TOLEDO CITY PAPER. OCTOBER 5, 2016

For local jazz vocalist and musician Estar Cohen, this past year has been about letting go of assumptions. This meditation has inspired an upcoming concept performance, “What We Can’t Know About Forever,” to be performed at The Toledo Museum of Art’s GlasSalon on Friday, October 7.

“Sometimes I feel like I walk through life with tunnel vision,” Cohen said. “There are things that I cannot possibly know. When I think of all the people I have loved and lost in my life, it is difficult to define; I don’t think I truly understand it and I don’t know if I ever will. In each case, there was a time when I thought our relationship would last forever. And maybe the moments we shared do still exist somewhere.”

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A new jazz standard

KELLY THOMPSON. TOLEDO CITY PAPER. NOVEMBER 19, 2014

Waiting for Dawn is a collaborative project, and there are several local musicians involved. How did the idea for this album come about? When the band (Josh Silver, Travis Aukerman, Steve Knurek, and myself) had decided we wanted to set a recording date, we had been working together for a couple of years. We felt that it was time to document our musical process as an ensemble and put ourselves up to the challenge of capturing some of these compositions live in the studio. As a writer, I felt a desire to share some of my work with a larger audience, rather than being limited to sharing the music with only those who have the opportunity to hear the group at a live performance.

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