Emmet Cohen’s EMMET’S PLACE at Birdland Thrillingly Justifies Jazz
The Emmet Cohen Trio is in residence this week at Birdland, except it’s the Emmet Cohen Quartet…for the week, at least. For this week of performances titled EMMET’S PLACE, the formidable trio have invited a series of guest artists who join them on stage for two shows a night.
To be honest, the trio doesn’t need guest artists because any trip outside the house to see the Emmet Cohen Trio (featuring Cohen on piano, Yasushi Nakamura on bass and Kyle Poole on drums) is a worthwhile trip and, indeed, one this writer never wants to miss. It’s not every day that a cabaret reporter has the luxury of seeing and re-watching a club act they’ve covered before, but it’s a must-have for me, and anytime Cohen and co. are in town, if possible, I swore to be there.
Yes, a person could purchase the albums (recommended) or compose Cohen on Spotify (easy), but the experience of seeing and hearing Mr. Cohen and his bandmates live and in person is simply too exciting an experience for the Give Way. Just being in the same space to see their antics, to observe their craftsmanship, to witness their camaraderie is worth the price of admission.
Until you’ve witnessed the sheer amount of physical effort the trio puts into playing their respective instruments, you don’t know. Poole seems lost in a trance, laid back, a bit like a vessel for music, while Nakamura seems to be playing a sporting event on his strings, and Cohen himself creates sounds so powerful they couldn’t come from fingertips. moving so quickly on the keys that it just seems to float.
Then, to further sweeten the deal, there’s the matter of each musician’s laser focus and utter appreciation as they stop what they’re doing to fully absorb the artistry of their fellow musicians during their individual solos. In fact, it’s more than a thrill, it’s a joy.
When the trio took to the Birdland stage on Tuesday night, they kicked off their set with three numbers designed, solely, for their participation, but when they were done with that part of their program, Emmet introduced jazz singer Lucy Yeghiazaryan in the procedure. .
Although the three men climaxed early in the evening with a performance of Ray Noble’s “Cherokee,” once Ms. Yeghiazaryan was on board, the musicality of the night reached a new level. It’s not that those first three numbers weren’t exceptional (they were), it’s just that this new added element (that of a period singer, and that of a fascinating new personality) has really livened things up for the crowd, a healthy one – sold one, at that.
Ms. Yeghiazaryan confessed to the audience that it was her first time performing Birdland, and given her skills and the audience’s response to those skills, it’s clear that a solo show needs to be put on, after haste. Of course, if Lucy was playing Birdland without Cohen, it might not be as fun – the chemistry between the two colleagues is off the charts, as they and the other two castmates onstage worked their way through treatments of classics like “Easy Street” (it was crazy) and “Isn’t It Too Bad” (it was spectacular), and the highlight of the night “Perdito”.
In fact, it’s a highlight because Ms. Yeghiazaryan presented a performance of “I Hadn’t Everyone Till You” which she recently recorded, she explained, but is considering not releasing. . From his seat behind the piano, Mr Cohen urged the audience to encourage him to reconsider and, in fact, release the single. His suggestion didn’t fall on deaf ears as the reaction to the performance was overwhelming and the message was clear: release the single. Please.
Each of the performers who worked in the room on Tuesday night’s opening of Birdland are talents worth catching, gifted performers at the top of their game (although it would have been nice if they didn’t). weren’t happening in the dark, an unfortunate scheme for Birdland’s lighting designer), but ultimately the name on the bill is Emmet Cohen, and even though he was on stage performing by himself , it would be worth the money paid and the trip in the cold night looks to see it live. Irving Berlin once wrote of the excitement of being invited “to hear a long-haired genius perform”. invites on stage to join his Merry Band of Music Makers this week, he’s the long-haired genius leading the band, and he’ll make sure the audience gets what they came for.
And then some.
The remaining guests for Emmet’s Place will be:
3/31 George Coleman
4/1 Houston Person
4/2 Joel M. Ross
Emmet’s Place: Emmet Cohen Trio with special guests will perform Birdland until March 2, two shows every night. For more information and reservations, visit the Birdland website HERE.
THIS is Emmet Cohen’s website.
Photos by Stephen Mosher
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