The Oxford English Dictionary describes master relating to the art of music as being “a great artist or musician” as in, for example, (to) ‘follow in the footsteps of the masters and… etcetera’. Wholly appropriate and well deserved, in the case of pianist Emmet Cohen is the Latin honorific, magister generalis meaning “grand master”, or a supreme head of various orders; a knighthood and so on. So it is by no accident that the young pianist together with Cory Weeds, saxophonist, label supremo and “Jazz fan” came to curate the “Masters Legacy Series”, on volume 2 of which Mr. Cohen reappears with bassist Ron Carter, and what a simply glorious disc this is from start all the way to the very end on “Joshua”.
The disc features beautifully crafted arrangements of beguiling Jazz standards, four of which put a spotlight on another Grand Master – Cedar Walton – each of which is played at an unhurried pace and with mesmerising splendour and sensuousness, in every lovingly caressed phrase by each of the three protagonists – Mr. Cohen, Mr. Carter and drummer Evan Sherman, who stirs a mean pea soup producing, at the same time, some exquisite expressionist colours as well. The chosen material, with a couple of exceptions, focuses on some lesser-known gems associated with Jazz and its Grand Masters (of which both Mr. Carter and Mr. Walton are charter members).
Speaking of Mr. Carter’s playing while listening to the way in which he seductively bends the notes in his expertly paced and pulsed solo on “It’s About Time” and how he sculpts the long, sustained invention of Victor Feldman’s “Joshua”, it’s clear that there’s not a semiquaver that hasn’t been fastidiously considered. Meanwhile every piece has been played here by Mr. Cohen with a kind of languid ease, each melodic variation following the other, quite inexorably, his sumptuous tone brilliantly caught in this “live” recording by Tony Chamberlist. The measured quality to his approach has a lived-in character to his phrase making that burns with the brimstone of fire and youth melded in with the well-honed values of experience.
And while Mr. Cohen plays his boppish clusters on “Hind Sight” with real authority and Mr. Carter strings together one gloriously visceral-sounding note after another to form a gleaming jewel of a phrase, Evan Sherman shapes the rhythmic content of this music completely attuned to the vision and artistry of pianist and bassist with a matching vision and artistry of his own. It’s the “Masters Legacy Series after all and fulfilling this promise the music is spot on from end to end.
Track list – 1: All Of You; 2: Opus One; 3: Hindsight; 4: Holy Land; 5: Dear Ruth; 6: It’s About Time; 7: Any Old Time; 8: Hatzi Kaddish Intro; 9: Hatzi Kaddish; 10: Light Bluer; 11: Ron Carter Speaks; 12: Joshua.
Personnel – Emmet Cohen: piano; Ron Carter: contrabass; Evan Sherman: drums
Released – 2018
Label – Cellar Live
Runtime – 1:16:11