a note...a word

drummer and writer ethan kogan

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Ethan's commitment to a soulful rendering of our experiences lives in his work as both a musician and a writer.

From a young age, Ethan was attracted to both words and music. Already an avid writer and storyteller by age 10 when he picked up his drumsticks, Ethan brought a love of flowing language and imaginative phrasing to his musical study. By age 18, he had performed with such jazz masters as Patti Austin, Cassandra Wilson, Phil Woods, Joe Lovano, and Rufus Reid, appearing on national stages such as Los Angeles's Nokia Theatre and Chicago's Millennium Park.


A native of the greater Chicago area, Ethan's life was blessed by inspiring teachers. As a teenager, Ethan studied under the great drummer Joel Spencer. He moved to New York City to attend Columbia University, there inspired by another teacher, the groundbreaking anthropologist Michael Taussig. On a semester abroad, Ethan spent three months in Ghana, West Africa, learning traditional rhythms with master musicians and living for a time with the world-renowned guitarist and philosopher, Koo Nimo.

Upon returning to New York, Ethan used a research grant to work with and write about some of New York's pioneering bucket drummers (including the stellar Ray King) in a popular comedy/breakdancing show in Union Square. He graduated cum laude in 2013, receiving honors for his senior thesis in anthropology, in which he investigated the nature of the gift-donation across the semblance of race and class privilege in the show.

For the past six years, Ethan has maintained an active performance schedule in and out of New York City, sharing the stage and recording with such leading new voices as saxophonists Chase Baird and Ben Solomon; trumpeter Takuya Kuroda; guitarist-singer Dida Pelled; pianists Davey Lantz and Addison Frei; and bassists Daryl Johns, Dan Chmielinski, and Raviv Markovitz; as well as masters Wallace Roney, Johnny O'Neal, James Weidman, Morrie Louden, Steve Hall and others. He has studied intensively for over four years with legendary jazz drummer and spiritualist Marvin "Bugalu" Smith.

Ethan extends his diverse talents in multiple directions, leading workshops across the country and internationally on writing and storytelling; composing "extraordinary-ability" artist visa profiles for New York City's leading immigration lawyer; serving as leader and sideman on a variety of musical projects in and out of the city; and writing his own poetry.

His words have been published in guitarist Koo Nimo's autobiography, Six Strings and a Note: Legendary Agya Koo Nimo in His Own Words, who included Ethan's writing in a chapter alongside renowned ethnomusicologists John Collins and Royal Hartigan. More recently, Ethan composed the liner notes for Chase Baird's groundbreaking 2019 album, A Life Between, which features luminaries Brad Mehldau and Antonio Sanchez.

Ethan hosts a regular show with his Natural Quartet at Harlem's Hexagon Lounge, and is currently finishing music and lyrics for the debut album of Nature Sounds, his own band. He lives in Harlem with his lovely cat, Nebula.

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"I put my heart into what I do."

Ethan Kogan

Get in touch with Ethan

New York, NY, USA

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