2019 Cole Porter Fellowship winner
Multifaceted American jazz pianist and composer Emmet Cohen has emerged as one of his generation's pivotal figures in music and the related arts. A recognized prodigy, Cohen began Suzuki method piano instruction at age three, and his playing quickly became a mature melding of musicality, technique, and concept. Downbeat observed that his "nimble touch, measured stride and warm harmonic vocabulary indicate he's above any convoluted technical showmanship." In the same spirit, Cohen himself has noted that playing jazz is "about communicating the deepest levels of humanity and individuality; it's essentially about connections," both among musicians and with audiences. He leads his namesake ensemble, the "Emmet Cohen Trio," is a vibrant solo performer, and is in constant demand as a sideman. Possessing a fluid technique, an innovative tonal palette, and an extensive repertoire, Cohen plays with the command of a seasoned veteran and the passion of an artist fully devoted to his medium.
Emmet Cohen is committed to the intergenerational transfer of artistic knowledge, history, and traditions. His signature professional undertaking is the "Masters Legacy Series," a celebratory set of recordings and interviews honoring legendary jazz musicians. He serves as both producer and pianist for each album in the series. The goal of this landmark, ongoing project is to provide musicians of multiple generations a forum to transfer the unwritten folklore that is America's unique musical idiom. Cohen has observed that playing jazz "is enriched immeasurably by connecting and studying with jazz masters, forging backward to the very creation of the art form." Volume one of the "Masters Legacy Series" features drummer Jimmy Cobb, and volume two spotlights bassist Ron Carter. Future "Masters Legacy Series" releases will include Cohen's recordings with Benny Golson, Tootie Heath, and George Coleman.
Emmet Cohen's exacting keyboard artistry has garnered numerous accolades from the international jazz community. He placed first in both the American Jazz Pianists competition (2014) and the Phillips Piano Competition at the University of West Florida (2011). He was a finalist in the prestigious American Pianists Association's Cole Porter Fellowship (2015, 2011) and the Thelonious Monk International Piano Competition (2011). Cohen has appeared in world-renowned jazz events, including the Newport, Monterey, North Sea, Bern, Edinburgh, Detroit, and Jerusalem jazz festivals, as well as the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival and the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics in Russia. He has also performed at the Village Vanguard, the Blue Note, Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola, Birdland, Jazz Standard, London's Ronnie Scott's, Jazzhaus Montmartre in Copenhagen, Lincoln Center's Rose Hall, the Cotton Club in Tokyo, and the Kennedy Center, and was received in the Oval Office by President Obama. He is currently Hammond B-3 organist-in-residence at Harlem's SMOKE jazz club.
Besides leading the "Emmet Cohen Trio," Cohen has appeared regularly with Ron Carter, Benny Golson, Jimmy Cobb, George Coleman, Jimmy Heath, Tootie Heath, Houston Person, Kurt Elling, Billy Hart, and Brian Lynch, among others. Cohen is also a member of Christian McBride's trio "Tip City," the "Herlin Riley Quartet," and the "Ali Jackson Trio," and serves as pianist and music director for jazz vocalist and television personality Lea DeLaria. His recordings include "Masters Legacy Series featuring Ron Carter" (2018); "Masters Legacy Series featuring Jimmy Cobb" (2017); "New Directions" (2016) with Herlin Riley; "Questioned Answer" (2014), co-produced with Brian Lynch; "Infinity" (2013), featuring his Italian Trio; and his acclaimed debut CD "In the Element" (2011), with bassist Joe Sanders and drummer Rodney Green.