As proven onstage as well as on such percolating, locomotive recordings as 2018's self released Dirty In Detroit
, Masters Legacy Series Vol 1
with Jimmy Cobb
(Cellar Live, 2016), 2018's Masters Legacy Series Vol 2
with Ron Carter
(Cellar Live), and his regular Monday Night Quarantine Jams on Facebook, pianist Emmet Cohen
makes his music with an unabashed, heart-on-you-sleeve exuberance and love for the future as past and vice versa. So it should come as no surprise to anyone that Future Stride
, his Mack Avenue Records debut, is both a wildly entertaining modern affair and history lesson all rolled into one madcap, immediate whole. In other words, a great way to kick 2020 out on its horrid, hind end and welcome 2021 with broad, open arms.
"Symphony Raps" resurrected from a late 1920s Louis Armstrong
recording with the Carroll Dickerson Orchestra, comes driving out straight at you with all the street muster and merriment Cohen and his stalwart rhythm mates drummer Kyle Poole
and bassist Russell Hall
can stir up. It's a fun and frantic three minutes akin to watching a highlight loop of Keystone Cops misadventures. Next up, fellow jazz young 'uns trumpeter Marquis Hill
and saxophonist Melissa Aldana
illuminate the shimmering Cohen original "Reflections at Dusk" and from any vantage point you can feel a good day shading slowly to twilight.
From that dramatic turn of mood to the all-out groove swing of "Toast to Lo," dedicated to drummer Lawrence Leathers
who was murdered in the Bronx in June 2019. Only 37, Leathers was a cherished friend to all in the quintet and they play their hearts out. A pure example of emphatic ensemble play, solos by Cohen, Hill and, especially Aldana, who burrows deep into her tone to express her sadness and fond recollections, will resonate with you for a good long while. The Cohen/Poole title tune hips, hops, skips and gathers some of the greatestFats Waller
, Art Tatum
, Teddy Wilson
, James Johnson
all into one room and has a grand time upending, as well paying homage to, the whole vaunted tradition. Even a warhorse like "Dardanella" becomes vibrantly now in this trio's elastic hands.
With the rushing whoosh of New York at its power center, Cohen's "You Already Know" fully unleashes the quintet's fluency and agility as everyone takes their turn flying close to the sun and landing back safely in the their comrades midst. With a vivacious, downtown 'tude ease that predicates many repeated listenings, Cohen and a fleet fingered Hall take on Duke Ellington
's "Pitter Panther Patter" itself a showcase for Ellington's once upstart, now legendary bassist Jimmy Blanton
. Cohen, charismatic and poised as ever, closes out the highly charged Future Stride
with the melodically endearing ballad "Little Angel," a testament to Hill's genuinely hushed lyricism. A sure 2021 best of.
Symphony Raps; Reflections at Dusk; Toast To Lo; Future Stride; Second Time Around; Dardanella;
You Already Know; Pitter Panther Patter; My Heart Stood Still; Little Angel.
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