Smokestack Lightnin' Home Page -- The Blues Profile Page
Zalman "Porky" Cohen, the brash, big-toned trombonist who capped a long and varied career by performing with Grammy-winners ROOMFUL OF BLUES from 1981-1987, died early this morning in his hometown of Providence, Rhode Island of complications resulting from a stroke. He had been experiencing health setbacks over the last few months.
Porky began performing publicly in his mid-teens, and studied with the legendary Miff Mole at that time. At age 19 he began playing with the Charlie Barnet Orchestra, where he was often featured as a soloist. Stints with Tony Pastor and Glen Gray's "Casa Loma" Orchestra followed, and in 1948-a time when segregation was the rule even in the jazz and blues worlds-he was one of a few white musicians to perform with the great, swinging Lucky Millinder Orchestra, a band which spawned blues shouters Wynonie Harris and Bull Moose Jackson.
After marrying and "settling down," he limited his performing career to local gigs in Rhode Island and southeastern New England; however, upon retiring from record sales, he joined the great jump-blues band ROOMFUL OF BLUES in 1981, touring all over the U.S. and Europe, giving people another taste of his big, effusive and exuberant sound. During this phase of his career, he recorded with jump-blues greats Big Joe Turner, Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson, Jimmy Witherspoon and Earl King. However, by 1987 he had had enough of the rigors of constant touring, and returned to Providence and various bands in that area. He continued performing until increasing ill-health sidelined him late last year.