Set aside for the moment that the combined age of the elders here is 174 years. Emmet Cohen's Masters Legacy Series Volume 3 Featuring Benny Golson & Albert "Tootie" Heath is not only a mouthful of a title, but also irascibly and irrepressibly old school. It's as if Cohen, in his youthful (29) zeal and zest to translate what the masters can still impart, not only wanted to capture a generational performance but the very air these two statesmen inhabit.
So is an elaborate recounting of either saxophonist Benny Golson or drummer Albert "Tootie" Heath really needed at this juncture? Or is it enough to just mention Golson's "Killer Joe," "I Remember Clifford" and his late 50's work with Dizzy Gillespie? Heath made his recording debut with John Coltrane in 1957 and went on to bolster and expand the music of trombonist J.J. .Johnson, pianist Cedar Walton, and saxophonist Dexter Gordon, just to name-drop a few.
Clear through from the breezy swing of "It Don't Mean a Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing)" to the playfully live, defining ease of Heath's stick play and Cohen's impish romp on "Charleston," the whole disc is imbued with a sense of timeless affection and abandon. Abandon and affection to the music, the memories, and the missions that mingle together to convey the love of the music and the joy of being human. Cohen affectionately records the two in conversation about the rolling and rocking on the road, other storied musicians and Dizzy's "Woody 'n You" before the tune comes alive like never before. Despite their be-bop reps, both Golson and Heath kept their eyes and ears tuned to the more commercial aspects of jazz, and the effortless performances of Tadd Dameron's "Lady Bird" and George Gershwin's "Embraceable You" find Cohen reinforcing his masterful skills away from his more adventurous tendencies to fall right in line with the colorful pop sensibilities of both tunes. From the same live performance as "Charleston," bassist Corcorian Holtanother pup at the age of thirty-eight, gets his chance to shine on Coltrane's "Straight Street." Just a truly enjoyable listen from beginning to end, full of life and conviction.
It Don't Mean A Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing); Lady Bird; Promise of the Sun; Reminiscing 1; Woody
'n You; Embraceable You; Reminiscing II; Straight Street; For Heaven's Sake; Just You, Just Me;
Reminiscing III; Charleston.
Emmet Cohen: piano; Benny Golson: tenor saxophone; Albert "Tootie" Heat:drums; Russell Hall: bass;
Corcorian Holt: bass (#8,12).
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