Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Live and Record...In Memoriam: Jacques Cohen (1968-2012)

This blog site was created for a graduate course I took at Claremont Graduate University, and has been used mostly for academic purposes, as well as short and random pieces on the arts. Having a friend unexpectedly pass away this week, Mike Toback, and then just learning that another good friend of mine had died last March, I thought it be appropriate to write about this.

I have been working on a number of projects this year: the almost completion of the first draft of my second novel; an article that I am about to submit for peer review; and the upcoming release of the demo I recorded with my band Skybox from New York.

Having all the materials prepared for the release of the Skybox EP, I thought it be appropriate that I contact my friend Jacques Cohen, who recorded the demo at his studio called "The Space," in Poughkeespie, New York.  It had been 4 years since I talked to Jacques, and wanted to see if he was on Facebook.  I knew he would be excited about the release.  When I googled his name, I saw that there was a memorial concert for him at The Loft in Poughkeepsie this past summer.  My heart instantly sank.  I did another search, which required to me to type the dreaded word "obituary," and learned that Jacques did pass away last March at the young age of 44.  

Anyone discussing the Hudson Valley music scene, Jacques' name is sure to come up.  A talented and gifted sound engineer, Jacques has recorded a number of bands in and around the area for a long time.  He was also known for his work with Mercury Rev.  Jacques was a very kind and giving person, who was a supporter of the music scene.  Jacques would not accept payment until the recording was completely done.  And he did not charge by the hour, because he believed that putting out quality work is the number one priority.  It not only gave him credibility as a place to record, but also gave the band a professional sound at an affordable cost.  When I was recommended by a friend to use Tune Core to sell our music on iTunes and Amazon, I did not have to worry about the quality of Skybox's sound, because Jacques had done such a great job recording, mixing and mastering those 6 songs.

I got to work with Jacques three more times.  The second was for a 9 song demo for Skybox, which we never finished.  The third was with my thrash band Smashed Rapture in 1998.  I was living in Burlington, Vermont at the time and convinced my band members that we had to make the trip from Burlington to Poughkeepsie to record at The Space.  The last recording was a small project I made with my friend and singer of Smashed Rapture in 1999.

I have great memories of Jacques, especially when he came to Burlington for a business trip - not for The Space, but for regular 9-5 work.  Me, my wife and Jacques went out for Mexican food and had a great time.   My last conversation with Jacques was right before I left to go to California to attend graduate school. I had planned to pick up the rest of our recordings that Jacques had stored for us, because I was unsure if I was coming back to the east coast.  Jacques was unable to get the tapes out of storage because he had moved the location of The Space.  Talking with Jacques, he told me about a house he had bought so he could live and record in the same place.  Live and record - that was Jacques.  I will miss him tremendously. RIP Jacques....

There is a scholarship fund created for Jacques at Dutchess Communtiy College, his alma mater.  Be sure to indicate that the scholarship is in memory of Jacques Cohen.


  1. Jacques was one of my very closest friends. your writing was a very well done tribute to him ; great job !

  2. Jacques was one of my very closest friends. your writing was a very well done tribute to him ; great job !