Multifaceted American jazz pianist and composer Emmet Cohen is in the vanguard of his generation’s advancement of 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.” Cohen notes that performing 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 and passion of an artist fully devoted to his medium.
Emmet Cohen is committed to the intergenerational transfer of the knowledge, history, and traditions of jazz. 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. This landmark, ongoing project provides musicians of multiple generations the means to share the unwritten folklore that is America’s unique artistic idiom. Cohen has observed that jazz “is enriched immeasurably by connecting and studying with jazz masters, forging backward to the very creation of the art form.” Four volumes of the “Masters Legacy Series” have been released, spotlighting Cohen’s collaborations with Jimmy Cobb, Ron Carter, Benny Golson, Tootie Heath, and George Coleman.
Emmet Cohen is the winner of the 2019 American Pianists Awards and the Cole Porter Fellow of the American Pianists Association, and Artist-in-Residence at the University of Indianapolis. He placed first in both the 2014 American Jazz Pianists Competition and the 2011 Phillips Piano Competition at the University of West Florida and, as a finalist in the 2011 Thelonious Monk International Piano Competition, he was received in the Oval Office by President Obama.
Cohen has appeared in varied international jazz events, including the Newport, Monterey, Detroit, North Sea, Bern, Edinburgh, 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 Washington’s Kennedy Center. For many years he was Hammond B-3 organist-in-residence at Harlem’s SMOKE jazz club.
Cohen has achieved a comprehensive position in the world of the creative arts that extends beyond keyboard performance. He serves as an international clinician through programs such as Lincoln Center’s “Jazz for Young People”; however, in his role as a master teacher he reaches learners of all ages. Himself an alumnus of the YoungArts Foundation, Cohen now curates multidisciplinary YoungArts programs nationally that include creative writing, theater, dance, visual arts, cinematography, music, voice, and jazz. Through designing curricula and selecting master artists as teachers and mentors, Cohen establishes an atmosphere in which student performers become responsive to their audiences. Cohen has also assisted in developing interdisciplinary programs directed by choreographers Debbie Allen and Bill T. Jones.
In addition to 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, Brian Lynch, and Lea DeLaria, among others. He is a member of Christian McBride’s trio “Tip City” and serves as pianist and music director for jazz vocalist Veronica Swift. In recent years, Cohen held membership in both the “Herlin Riley Quintet” and the “Ali Jackson Trio.” He is a Mack Avenue recording artist whose premier CD on that label, “Future Stride” (2021), features contemporary stars Marquis Hill and Melissa Aldana. Cohen’s other recordings include “Masters Legacy Series Volume 4: George Coleman” (2019); “Masters Legacy Series Volume 3: Benny Golson and Tootie Heath” (2019); “Dirty in Detroit” (2018); “Masters Legacy Series Volume 2: Ron Carter” (2018), a Downbeat top-rated album; “Masters Legacy Series Volume 1: Jimmy Cobb” (2017); “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.
During the 2020 lockdown, Cohen developed “Live From Emmet’s Place,” a series of weekly performances by his trio and special guests livestreamed from his New York apartment that recall the Harlem rent parties of yesteryear. These concerts, which have received millions of internet views worldwide, are noteworthy for employing sophisticated production values that set the standard for live internet jazz performance. Cohen has also established the “Emmet
Cohen Exclusive” membership program which provides subscribers access to previously unseen concert recordings and other creative offerings, including Cohen’s personal commentary and observations. Membership allows fans to solidify a relationship with Cohen and his colleagues, further explore the genre, and help secure the legacy of jazz.
Cohen holds a Masters Degree from the Manhattan School of Music and a Bachelors Degree from the University of Miami’s Frost School of Music, where he studied with the esteemed pianist and educator Shelly Berg. In his formative years he was tutored in classical piano at the Manhattan School of Music’s Pre-College Division.
A dynamic and charismatic performer, Emmet Cohen possesses wide-ranging talents that are invigorating the contemporary arts world both at home and abroad and are received enthusiastically worldwide.
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