Emmet Cohen, one of the foremost jazz pianists on the scene today, takes the stride tradition into our century’s second decade on his forthcoming album, Future Stride, due out January 29, 2021, via Mack Avenue Records. He does so with a venerable group of his peers, including longtime rhythm section partners bassist Russell Hall and drummer Kyle Poole, as well as trumpeter Marquis Hill and saxophonist Melissa Aldana, two of the most progressive voices in modern jazz.
“I find that all great art can be considered modern,” Cohen explains via a press release. “For me, the piano stride belongs in that category; the music of Art Tatum and Earl ‘Fatha’ Hines and Willie ‘The Lion’ Smith has implications that can affect people today in a very deep manner.” The second track on Future Stride, “Reflections at Dusk,” is a haunting original composition that shows how Cohen is able to integrate the lessons of these greats into his own unique, forward-looking sound.
Listen to a premiere of “Reflections at Dusk” from Future Stride via the player below.
Stride piano is often seen as the starting point in the evolution of jazz piano. Primarily developed from ragtime in Harlem during the 1920s, it was a playing style adopted by pianists that produced a rich, orchestral sound. Aside from liberating the virtuosity of these musicians, particularly showcased in the legendary “cutting contests” of the time, stride piano could also convey intense, powerful emotion.
Cohen drew on this expressive power to create “Reflections at Dusk.” While originally written by the pianist as he contemplated serious personal changes, the composition has since picked up a universal resonance in the life-altering times of the coronavirus pandemic. “I had started to take a lot of time for reflection even before the world stopped,” he says. “I think everyone is going through some version of that now, finally taking advantage of the chance to stop and listen to their own voices and thoughts. This piece is about taking time for yourself, which can be very difficult sometimes.”
Featured photo by Taili Song Roth.
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