November 26, 2022

Emmet Cohen: reviving jazz and healing the pandemic’s wounds on music

Emmet Cohen is a 32-year-old jazz pianist from New York City. His popularity has skyrocketed in recent years due to his popular online live-stream show “Live From Emmet’s Place.” 

The show is broadcasted online on YouTube and Facebook as a live-stream, and is also available to re-watch in its entirety on those platforms. The show runs just short of two hours and features music from the earliest jazz, to modern fusions, and to his own original pieces. After the broadcast has ended, Emmet selects several tunes as highlights from the live-stream and uploads them as separate videos to his YouTube channel, “Emmet Cohen,” and his other social media.

Emmet performs with the Emmet Cohen Trio; composed of himself on piano, Russell Hall playing bass, and Kyle Poole on the drums. Although substitute musicians are often featured in his live-streams and live shows, these three musicians are the original members of the Emmet Cohen Trio.

“Live From Emmet’s Place” started as a response to the Covid-19 outbreak. It began as a simple iPhone camera setup with dodgy audio recording capabilities and has since transformed into a high quality, multi-camera angle production with top-of-the-line audio quality. 

Cohen and his trio were quick to act at the beginning of the pandemic to convert their shows to live-stream, and his audience quickly grew and showed generous financial support. This allowed the group to continue playing throughout the pandemic, to upgrade their quality, and to begin bringing in guest musicians.

One of the main appeals of the show is how it sports new and “upcoming” jazz musicians and established jazz artists from around the New York area. These guests bring some of their own tunes to play on the show, creating diversity in styles and giving an outlet to show new jazz music to a wider audience.

Patrick Bartley, who visited Capital as part of the Capital University Jazz Festival in 2021, has appeared on the show several times and plays with Cohen in shows around the world. Bartley’s band, J-MUSIC Ensemble, specializes in jazz arrangements of video game music. With Bartley’s appearance on the live-stream, his arrangements of video game songs have been performed alongside popular jazz standards, solidifying and broadcasting video game jazz as a sub-genre to all types of musicians. 

Cohen’s partnership between jazz’s oldest to newest traditions, and online streaming help broaden the audience to younger musicians. Cohen’s YouTube videos appear as one of the first few search results when searching most jazz standards. His videos amass thousands of views over time, and some have even began to exponentially outgrow the original versions of some of the standards. 

Capital Jazz faculty use these videos as “exemplary trio work” and “amazing inner ensemble listening.” This group plays off of each other in a way that is great to study and try to replicate. Their ability to reuse musical moments from each other is inspiring, and what makes the show so electrifying. 

Along with the show, Cohen has a separate broadcast called “Emmet’s Place Education.” This broadcast, similar to “Live From Emmet’s Place,” is a free live-stream with guest musicians to help educate younger musicians. 

Emmet sits down on a Zoom call with a guest and talks about many musical concepts. Halfway through the show, the audience in the Zoom call ask questions face-to-face with the guest. This opportunity is available to anyone for free through Emmet’s website. The show is a resource for growing jazz musicians, as well as gives great insight into the modern music industry. 

Since live shows have mostly returned to normal, Emmet Cohen travels with the Emmet Cohen Trio around the world, and sometimes plays with some of the same guests that appear on the live stream show. 

Emmet Cohen Trio performing with Patrick Bartley Jr. (alto sax) and Bruce Harris (trumpet)

When on the road, Cohen cannot stream “Live From Emmet’s Place.” He instead re-broadcasts an older edition of the show, and uploads videos and vlogs of his live shows to populate his channel. 

This dynamic range of content allows the channel to grow substantially. Gaining viewers from diverse short and long-form content. 

Most jazz musicians are familiar with Cohen and his online presence. Some have referenced it as “saving jazz;” pushing and educating this music towards new audiences and giving adept and learning musicians a modern reference point for older songs.

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