UMass Saxophonist Jonathan Hulting-Cohen Releases Debut CD on innova Recordings

Jonathan Hulting-Cohen
Jonathan Hulting-Cohen

UMass Amherst saxophone professor Jonathan Hulting-Cohen has released his first solo recording, titled “Second Flight,” on innova Recordings. The new CD features original works by a wide range of composers including department of music and dance chair Salvatore Macchia and fellow saxophone professor Felipe Salles. Backing Hulting-Cohen on the release were Nicholas Shaneyfelt ’11 MM (piano), Rudresh Mahanthappa (saxophone) and Dennis Sullivan (drums).

Hulting-Cohen conceived “Second Flight” as an exploration into “the definitions, edges and aesthetic possibilities of classical music.” After having performed these works over the past three years as part of his Timbre|ine project, Hulting-Cohen was struck by how they all reflect a sense of movement, with the same sense of urgency, danger, and grace as flight. Given the saxophone’s versatile nature, Hulting-Cohen sees the instrument as a symbol of change, and a vehicle to act as a bridge between classical music and jazz, folk, and other emerging genres.

The eight commissioned works on “Second Flight” are representative of this stylistic variety. The CD takes its title from a work of the same name by Joan Tower, who saw parallels between the limitless nature of flight and the saxophone’s wide tonal range and flexibility. This expressive versatility is also explored in Macchia’s “Spira B,” which combines newer classical forms with live electronics that reflect moments of performance back to the performer, creating a spiraling interaction between past and present. Another example of bold genre-bending is Felipe Salles’ “Uirapuru,” in which the composer creates an interplay between the distinctive call of the eponymous Brazilian bird, electronic jazz sounds, and Hulting-Cohen’s soprano saxophone. Other composers whose work appears on the CD include Ingrid Arauco, Rudresh Mahanthappa, Stephen Rush, Annika Socolofsky, and Eric Wubbels.

A member of the UMass faculty since 2014, Hulting-Cohen is co-founder of The Moanin’ Frogs saxophone sextet and the saxophone and harp duo Admiral Launch, whose debut records appeared on Teal Creek and Albany Records.