The name Cosmic Country Horns (or CCH) actually refers to two separate groups of musicians who performed with Phish in 1994. On May 4, the guest horns players were Michael Ray and Carl “Geerz” Gerhard on trumpet, Dave “The Truth” Grippo on alto sax, Tony Tate on tenor sax, Jerome Theriot on baritone sax and Rick Trolsen on trombone. They joined the band for “You Enjoy Myself,” “Buried Alive,” “The Landlady,” “Julius,” “Wolfman's Brother,” “Magilla” and “Suzy Greenberg” in the second set, as well as a “Caravan” encore. Then, in December, the CCH joined the band for portions of two California shows. The lineup there featured Grippo on alto sax and percussion, Gerhard and Ray on trumpet, James Harvey on trombone, and Peter Apfelbaum on baritone sax, tenor sax and flute. The song selection on these two nights included “David Bowie,” “Buried Alive,” “Julius,” “The Landlady,” “Gumbo,” “Caravan,” “Suzy Greenberg,” “Cavern,” “Frankenstein,” “Slave to the Traffic Light,” “Touch Me” and an “Alumni Blues” jam with introductions.
Stylistically, the CCH were a stark contrast to their predecessors, The Giant Country Horns (GCH). While the GCH had a classical, swing style to their accompaniment, the CCH had more of a Sun Ra-esque sound, which could be expected given the members of the group and the leadership of Michael Ray. The CCH have not appeared since those two shows in December 1994, but individual members continue to grace the stage. Fans should never rule out a future return; Phish thought enough of the CCH to release a sample of their accompaniment on A Live One when they chose to include “Gumbo,” recorded on 12/2/94.
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