These days, Michael Cochrane is a busy man. Having just completed his eighth CD as a leader on the Steeplechase label, the pianist/composer finds himself shuttling between Europe and the U.S. with "The Spirit of Life Ensemble." Add to that calls for frequent side man duties in and around the tri-state area and it would appear that his career is reved up into overdrive.
So why then at this time would the super active jazz man embark on a cooperative project like Lines=of=Reason? "I've always enjoyed the sharing of responsibility," says Cochrane. "I actually had thought about doing something like this when I originally moved to New York. But the normal way to go back then was to be a sideman, which most of my friends ended up doing."
Cochrane hails from Peekskill, New York, a little town about fifty miles north of New York City. The way to go for the musically gifted Cochrane growing up during the fifties was to start piano lessons at the age of eight. "I think that by the time I was thirteen," he remembers, "I could play Beethoven's Sonata Pathetique, which I actually performed at one of my teacher's recitals."
The youngster continued to perform throughout his high school years in a state of the art band program under the direction of Vincent Corozine. It was at this juncture that the teenager got his first exposure to jazz, and in particular, to the big band sound.
Although jazz was constantly on his mind, surprisingly the high school grad enrolled at Boston University in the science and math department. "I was majoring in mathematics," recalls Cochrane, "but at the same time I was studying in an after school music program at Berkeley. You could sign up for private lessons and actually get college credit, which I did." By his third year in school, the jazz bug had bitten and there was really no doubt as to what direction the college junior would pursue for the rest of his life. Cochrane eventually switched majors and would graduate with a degree in psychology. But by then he was gigging around the Boston area and had become a regular on the local jazz scene.
He would stay on in Boston for another four years before making the inevitable move to New York City. The relocation coincided with the beginning of a long association with trumpeter Hannibal Marvin Peterson. During the next seven years, the New York pianist traveled the world over with the Peterson band. They eventually recorded One With the Wind for Muse Records.
The intervening years have seen Cochrane's artistry become more and more in demand. But despite his grueling schedule, the time has come to seize the moment and launch Lines=of=Reason. Performing with his comrades in a close knit, long-term situation has irresistible advantages for the prolific composer. "It really makes a huge difference," says Cochrane, "when you know exactly who you're writing for their directions."