Review: Ragtime and much more from jazz pianist Emmet Cohen

  • This cover image released by Mack Avenue Records shows "Future Stride" by Emmet Cohen. (Mack Avenue Records via AP)

    This cover image released by Mack Avenue Records shows "Future Stride" by Emmet Cohen. (Mack Avenue Records via AP) Associated Press

 
 
Updated 1/26/2021 12:11 PM

Emmet Cohen, "Future Stride' (Mack Avenue Records)

Stride provides a starting point on jazz pianist Emmet Cohen's new album. The opening cut, 'œSymphonic Raps,' is a New Orleans ragtime tune recorded by Louis Armstrong nearly a century ago, and Cohen plays it as though his piano is rolling downhill, accelerating until he leaves the rhythm section behind.

 

That momentum sends Cohen on an exploration of other jazz stylings, with stride as an antecedent and recurring reference point. Common threads on 'œFuture Stride' include swinging, often unpredictable rhythms, inventive interplay and wit.

Take, for example, the title cut. Written by Cohen and drummer Kyle Poole, it's a joyful swirl with shifting tempos, including a cowboy saunter and a three-way conversation that also includes bassist Russell Hall.

The beat is also big on another Cohen original, 'œYou Already Know." It's bebop given extra propulsion by trumpeter Marquis Hill and saxophonist Melissa Aldana, who both sit in on several cuts.

Hill overdubs a second trumpet for call and response on the prayerful, lyrical closer 'œLittle Angel.' The final chord leaves the tune unresolved, suggesting more to come. As the album title might suggest, 'œFuture Stride" ends with Cohen looking ahead.

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