Cincinnati Jazz musician Jeff Cosgrove unexpectedly passed away on Sunday, May 28, 2023. Drummer Jeff Cosgrove has worked with a variety of top-notch improvisers despite being based in Middletown in western Maryland rather than a big metropolis like New York City. The cause of death is currently unknown to the public.
His eclectic career path has led to a variety of diverse ensembles, such as the trios Alterating Current with Matthew Shipp and William Parker, Conversations with Owls with Frank Kimbrough and Martin Wind, and Motian Sickness, a quartet performing music by the late Paul Motian. Along with Shipp, Mat Maneri, Scott Robinson, Ken Filiano, and upcoming tenor saxophonist Noah Preminger, he also maintains other projects.
Cosgrove worked closely with blues, rock, and singer-songwriters while growing up in the Washington, D.C. region, mentioning B.B. King, Howlin’ Wolf, Jimi Hendrix, The Grateful Dead, Phish, Wilco, Tom Waits, and Andrew Bird as early influences. Motian, Elvin Jones, Joe Chambers, Ben Riley, and Roy Haynes are just a few of musicians who have impacted and informed his deft drumming style. Additionally, he has received instruction from the drummers Joe Hunt, Tony Martucci, Andrew Cyrille, and Mike Shepherd.
Despite having experience keeping exact time in more traditional ensembles, Cosgrove frequently indulges his fascination in abstraction in his own projects, where he mostly uses color and texture rather than pounding backbeats. On his most recent album, History Gets Ahead of the Story, a creative homage to the works of William Parker performed as a traditional organ trio with John Medeski and multi-instrumentalist Jeff Lederer, these two diametrically opposed characteristics come together. In the summer of 2020, I spoke with Cosgrove about his amazing new record and the most recent developments in the pandemic.