Emmet Cohen has one foot in the tradition, and another in the future article @ All About Jazz


Emmet Cohen has one foot in the tradition, and another in the future article @ All About Jazz



































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Within about a week of home quarantine in March 2020, pianist

Emmet Cohen

” data-original-title=”” title=””>Emmet Cohen started live-streaming shows every Monday night from his apartment in Harlem.

At first it was just Cohen and his bandmates, drummer

Kyle Poole

” data-original-title=”” title=””>Kyle Poole and bassist

Russell Hall

” data-original-title=”” title=””>Russell Hall, set up in Cohen’s living room. Eventually they started inviting guests, and Emmet’s Place became one of the spots for live jazz in pandemic New York. Six months in, it had really caught on: the Emmet’s Place performance of “La Vie en Rose” featuring singer

Cyrille Aimee
Cyrille Aimee

voice / vocals
b.1984

” data-original-title=”” title=””>Cyrille Aimee has over four million views on Youtube.

Since then, Emmet’s Place has become a kind of jazz incubator in New York; featured guests have included legends like

Houston Person
Houston Person

saxophone, tenor
b.1934

” data-original-title=”” title=””>Houston Person,

Victor Lewis

” data-original-title=”” title=””>Victor Lewis,

Joe Lovano
Joe Lovano

saxophone
b.1952

” data-original-title=”” title=””>Joe Lovano,

Sheila Jordan
Sheila Jordan

voice / vocals
b.1928

” data-original-title=”” title=””>Sheila Jordan,

Randy Breaker
Randy Breaker

trumpet
b.1945

” data-original-title=”” title=””>Randy Breaker,

Regina Carter
Regina Carter

violin
b.1966

” data-original-title=”” title=””>Regina Carter,

Christian McBride
Christian McBride

bass
b.1972

” data-original-title=”” title=””>Christian McBride,

Nicholas Payton
Nicholas Payton

trumpet
b.1973

” data-original-title=”” title=””>Nicholas Paytonand dozens more.

Cohen has one foot planted in the future and the other in the past. Maybe that’s why he chose to call his most recent record Future Stride: as a nod to the stride piano that he loves and the modern world in which he lives.

That tension between these two impulses, the old school and the new, is at the heart of the Emmet Cohen phenomenon. He’s deeply rooted in the jazz tradition, and believes in the importance of oral history and intergenerational connection. When he was in his 20s (not so long ago!) he made a series of albums, live interviews, and performances featuring jazz masters

Jimmy Cobb
Jimmy Cobb

drums
1929 – 2020

” data-original-title=”” title=””>Jimmy Cobb,

Ron Carter

” data-original-title=”” title=””>Ron Carter,

Benny Golson
Benny Golson

saxophone, tenor
b.1929

” data-original-title=”” title=””>Benny Golson,

Albert "Tootie" Heat
Albert “Tootie” Heath

drums
b.1935

” data-original-title=”” title=””>Albert “Tootie” Heathand

George Coleman
George Coleman

saxophone, tenor
b.1935

” data-original-title=”” title=””>George Coleman. He called it the Master Legacy Series.

Meanwhile, he’s an active digital citizen. He was quick to embrace streaming, NFTs, and direct-to-fan connection. (He offers a subscription service to his fans to support his work directly.) He’s a product of the 21st century and he understands how to thrive in both physical and virtual space.

We got together recently to talk about how he straddles the line between tradition and modernity, starting out as a prodigy in Miami, being a “repertory player,” his community in Harlem, “blues therapy” and the common lesson he learned from all his mentors.

The Third Story is made in partnership with WBGO Studios.

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