So here we are, nearly knocking on the door to February 2020, and we're listening to the second of Emmet Cohen
's two entrancing, late 2019 releases: Masters Legacy Series Vol. 4 Emmet Cohen featuring George Coleman
a good harbinger for the new year. And heaven knows we could use a boatload of good harbingers these exhausting days.
Pianist/prodigy Emmet Cohen loves history. Jazz history especially. Sax legend George Coleman
's ever reliable and responsive affinity to the soul of things He has has made himselfas if, at age 84, he needs any validationintegral to the canon, standing beside Miles Davis
on the seminal Seven Steps to Heaven
(Columbia, 1963); or sitting in on Herbie Hancock
's heralded Maiden Voyage
(Blue Note, 1965) and co-igniting the fierce freedom fire that burns Eastern Rebellion Vol. 1
(Timeless, 1975) with Cedar Walton
, Sam Jones
and Billy Higgins
This bold, proclamatory setrecorded live at Yamaha Artists Services in NYCopens with nothing less than Thelonious Monk
's groove defining "Trinkle Trinkle," its left hand dominant strides a challenge to all but the players on this particularly fine session. The music has a popping swing, courtesy of drummer Bryan Carter
and bassist Russell Hall
laying it all out for Cohen's cascades and Coleman's bright, cajoling interjections. A prolific, inspired composer, Cohen's lone original, "For Big G," sounds right in place among the set's keenly curated standards, blues, and ballads, its humorous, riveting set of acrobatics invoking McCoy Tyner
and Erroll Garner
The album then moves thoughtfully into inspired lounge mode. For at the heart of Jimmy McHugh's "Don't Blame Me"a tune covered by everyone from Yusef Lateef
to Ethel Waters
is a gentle pool of cocktail grace and lyricism taken at a most leisurely tempo, thereby allowing the beauty of the notes and their performance to baptize the listener in its tender 9 1/2 minutes. After what some might consider a somewhat standard take of "On Green Dolphin Street," (and what really is standard in these guys hands?) another Monk. This time it is the ascendent waltz "Ugly Beauty," followed by the quiet chromaticism of Bill Carey and Carl Fischer's "You've Changed," another of those songs covering the grand spectrum from Sarah Vaughan
to Dexter Gordon
. "Db Blues" is one of those rolling, triumphant, many tinted blues that signals the set's closer.
It is a fool's folly and mad errand to compare one artistic statement to or with any another. And since it's been scientifically proven that all too many engage in such daily discourse, let us not allow that to happen here. Let's just say with deep sincerity that with Masters Legacy Series Vol. 4 Emmet Cohen featuring George Coleman
, Cohen has produced a stellar successor to a very fine tradition into which he has thankfully inserted himself.
Trinkle Trinkle; I Surrender Dear; For Big G; Don't Blame Me; On Green Dolphin Street; Ugly Beauty;
Triste; You've Changed; Db Blues.
Emmet Cohen: piano; George Coeman: tenor saxophone; Russell Hall: bass; Bryan Carter: drums.