The Litchfield Jazz Festival presented the Emmet Cohen Trio virtually on Friday, December 18, 2020, featuring Emmet Cohen on piano, Kyle Poole on drums, and Philip Norris on bass. Saxophonist and Director of Operations of the Litchfield Jazz Camp, Albert Rivera, was the host of the evening, and he introduced the trio at the Telefunken Soundstage in Connecticut. Rivera also gave a shoutout to Festival Founder Vita West Muir.
This event was part of a series that started earlier in the year. Because of the pandemic, the people at Litchfield decided to continue the series for the folks who are stuck at home, wishing they could go out to the clubs and listen to live music. Albert Rivera said, “We decided to really extend this series, which started last summer…A couple of months ago, we had the Mario Pavone Trio perform, and it was really incredible.”
Then, Rivera introduced the Emmet Cohen Trio, noting that he has known Cohen for about 20 years, ever since their days at Litchfield Jazz Camp. The concert started with the excellent rendition of two songs, Cole Porter’s “All of You” and “Something in Common.” Cohen said, “It feels good to get in a car and go somewhere for a gig!” He reminisced about his days at Litchfield Jazz Camp, and thanked all the people who were so generous with their musical knowledge at the camp. He also sang the praises of Vita West Muir. Emmet’s stellar piano skills were demonstrated on the delightfully energetic “Future Stride,” from Cohen’s newly released album of the same name.
The show continued with an impressive version of Antônio Carlos Jobim’s “Antigua” and a wondrous “Our Delight,” from the pen of the great bebop pianist/composer Tadd Dameron. Next came a meltingly romantic “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” that segued into some surprisingly effective boogie woogie, and returned to a romantic close. The holiday theme continued with a swinging “Winter Wonderland,” where the trio played with amazing style and verve, adding some fabulous ragtime riffs, and a nod to “Jingle Bells”!
Emmet mentioned that this event was supposed to take place the night before, but a snowy Nor’easter caused a delay of one day. Cohen also talked about how difficult a time it is for so many people, including musicians and music lovers, and whatever it takes to get the music out there is worth it. Next was a serene and gorgeous “Second Time Around.” The set finished with the sprightly Duke Ellington tune “Braggin’ in Brass” that highlighted all the musicians’ talents.
Throughout this concert, Emmet Cohen was at the top of his game, with outstanding support from his fellow musicians, who matched him note for note. This show was just the ticket to enjoy on a cold night indoors. The warmth and vibrancy of the music was a balm for spirit, something that is so needed during this pandemic.
Emmet Cohen has been hosting Live from Emmet’s Place, each Monday at 7:30 pm. EST, since early in the pandemic. If you go to www.emmetcohen.com there are links to donate, as well as links to his YouTube Channel, Masters Legacy Series, and search options for most of his previous live streams. He originally streamed concerts just from his apartment, and recently, he has been using various locations to live stream. Cohen has collaborated on these weekly events with Veronica Swift, Catherine Russell, Ken Peplowski, Giveton Gelin, Jazzmeia Horn, Warren Wolf, Cyrille Aimée, Houston Person, and many more!
This concert was free, but donations for the ongoing events of the Litchfield Jazz Camp and the Litchfield Jazz Festival can be made at PayPal.me/litchfieldjazz or at Venmo:@Litchfieldjazz.
The Litchfield Jazz Festival’s series of live-streamed concerts continues on April 16, 2021, at 7:30 pm, with the concert Peter Bernstein/Steve Cardenas Quartet Play Monk.
About Emmet Cohen
On Emmet’s website, it says the following: “Multifaceted American jazz pianist and composer Emmet Cohen is in the vanguard of his generation’s advancement of music and the related arts. A recognized prodigy, Cohen began Suzuki method piano instruction at age three, and his playing quickly became a mature melding of musicality, technique, and concept. Downbeat observed that his “nimble touch, measured stride and warm harmonic vocabulary indicate he’s above any convoluted technical showmanship.” Cohen notes that performing jazz is “about communicating the deepest levels of humanity and individuality; it’s essentially about connections,” both among musicians and with audiences. He leads his namesake ensemble, the “Emmet Cohen Trio,” is a vibrant solo performer, and is in constant demand as a sideman. Possessing a fluid technique, an innovative tonal palette, and an extensive repertoire, Cohen plays with the command and passion of an artist fully devoted to his medium.
Cohen has achieved a comprehensive position in the world of the creative arts that extends beyond keyboard performance. He serves as an international clinician through programs such as Lincoln Center’s “Jazz for Young People”; however, in his role as a master teacher he reaches learners of all ages. Himself an alumnus of the YoungArts Foundation, Cohen now curates multidisciplinary YoungArts programs nationally that include creative writing, theater, dance, visual arts, cinematography, music, voice, and jazz. Through designing curricula and selecting master artists as teachers and mentors, Cohen establishes an atmosphere in which student performers become responsive to their audiences. Cohen has also assisted in developing interdisciplinary programs directed by choreographers Debbie Allen and Bill T. Jones.
Emmet Cohen is committed to the intergenerational transfer of the knowledge, history, and traditions of jazz. His signature professional undertaking is the “Masters Legacy Series,” a celebratory set of recordings and interviews honoring legendary jazz musicians. He serves as both producer and pianist for each album in the series. This landmark, ongoing project provides musicians of multiple generations the means to share the unwritten folklore that is America’s unique artistic idiom. Cohen has observed that jazz “is enriched immeasurably by connecting and studying with jazz masters, forging backward to the very creation of the art form.” Four volumes of the “Masters Legacy Series” have been released, spotlighting Cohen’s collaborations with Jimmy Cobb, Ron Carter, Benny Golson, Tootie Heath, and George Coleman.
Emmet Cohen is the winner of the 2019 American Pianists Awards and the Cole Porter Fellow of the American Pianists Association, and Artist-in-Residence at the University of Indianapolis. He placed first in both the 2014 American Jazz Pianists Competition and the 2011 Phillips Piano Competition at the University of West Florida and, as a finalist in the 2011 Thelonious Monk International Piano Competition, he was received in the Oval Office by President Obama. Cohen has appeared in varied international jazz events, including the Newport, Monterey, Detroit, North Sea, Bern, Edinburgh, and Jerusalem jazz festivals, as well as the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival and the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics in Russia. He has also performed at the Village Vanguard, the Blue Note, Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola, Birdland, Jazz Standard, London’s Ronnie Scott’s, Jazzhaus Montmartre in Copenhagen, Lincoln Center’s Rose Hall, the Cotton Club in Tokyo, and Washington’s Kennedy Center. For many years he was Hammond B-3 organist-in-residence at Harlem’s SMOKE jazz club.”
This virtual concert was made possible by gifts from Ted Chapin & Torrence Boone; Mark Ferguson and Natalie Jacobs; Cheryl Paul; Vita West Muir; Adena Siegel & Steve Soklin; Stuart & Lisa Leventhal; Linda & Greg Walker; Philip Samponaro; Lloyd Williams & Lucia Maneri, and Josephine Radocchio.
The event was also supported by DownBeat Magazine, Real Airways, Firehouse 12, and the Hartford Jazz Society.
To find out more about the Litchfield Jazz Festival and its upcoming events, go to: www.litchfieldjazzfest.com.