Culture

After a securing a ‘Place’ in jazz, Emmet Cohen heads to Bay Area


Like thousands of other music fans, the first time I heard Samara Joy was at Emmet’s Place, an online jazz oasis that’s provided a steady flow of soul-nourishing music since the first months of the pandemic.

Launched by award-winning pianist Emmet Cohen when New York shut down in March of 2020, the ongoing series has become an extension of the city’s jazz scene, with stellar production values that bring viewers right into his living room. The first session with Joy, “Live From Emmet’s Place Vol. 67,” was livestreamed from his Harlem home studio Aug. 23, 2021 and has garnered more than 200,000 views on YouTube.

While hardly unknown at the time — she had won the Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition two years earlier — Joy had yet to start collecting the Grammy Awards that catapulted her into stardom, or landing choice gigs like her four-night SFJAZZ Center run May 16-19. “The best part of doing it is that people from all corners of the world who don’t get to experience a jazz club near them can come hang out,” said Cohen, 33. “People all over the world found a community in ‘Emmet’s Place,’ whether they gather there live and participate in the chat or watch them later.”

He’s farmed the broadcast out this month to the young Juilliard-trained New Jazz Underground trio while he hits the road, a tour that brings him to California for a three-night stand at UC Davis’s Mondavi Center with his organ quartet, May 16-18, featuring trumpeter Benny Benack III, tenor saxophonist Ruben Fox, and drummer Kyle Poole.

“I’m a huge fan of Jimmy Smith, Brother Jack McDuff, Dr. Lonnie Smith, and Joey DeFrancesco, who was a friend,” said Cohen, 33, name checking the Mount Rushmore of jazz’s greatest Hammond B3 practitioners. “With this group I get to have the horns out front. I love the freedom of controlling the bass section. We can explore tempos and keys, start on one tune and end up on another.”

His Bay Area run featuring his piano trio with Poole and bass maestro Rueben Rogers includes a Sunday afternoon concert at Bach Dancing & Dynamite Society, Monday night at Kuumbwa Jazz Center, and an eight-show, four-night residency in the SFJAZZ Center’s Joe Henderson Lab May 23-26.

All the performances are sold out, but the Bach concert and 7 p.m. May 24 Joe Henderson Lab set will be, appropriately enough, livestreamed. In person or online, he’s a genial host fluent in a century-long array of piano idioms, including the demanding stride style perfected in Harlem gatherings designed to raise money for tenants.

“That’s the mythology,” Cohen said. “I live on Edgecombe Avenue, where all my piano heroes were doing Harlem rent parties a century ago. There’s a spiritual weight to what we’re doing.”

For Cohen, Emmet’s Place is more than a hang. “It’s become a documentation quest for me, trying to capture all the musicians who comprise the scene and are able and willing to come up,” he said.

He wanted the broadcast to echo the vibe …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment

      

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