New York based pianist, Emmet Cohen brought his trio to Sunset Jazz at Newport, Wed. August 15, 2018. His rhythm section is also New York based musicians, bassist, Russell Hall and drummer, Evan Sherman.
All three have a huge base of accomplishments. Tony Guerrero joined the Cohen Trio as guest trumpet and flugelhornist.
These concerts are very comfortable in the Rose Gardens at Newport Beach’s Marriott Hotel. Concerts are 6:00 to 8:30 p.m. and are in the ninth year of this series, Wednesday evenings, for eleven weeks.
Their trio began with a suave gem, “The Second Time Around.” The audience was well settled and full to capacity. The trio’s sound was very well balanced, bringing a definite shine to each of the three trio performers.
The next two tunes were both jazz classics: Dizzy Gillespie’s “Tin, Tin Deo,” and “Poiniciana,” made famous, jazz-wise, by the great Ahmad Jamal.
In “Tin, Tin Deo,” Cohen provided some sparkling chordal voicings, melodic lines and had special rhythmic patterns from both Hall and Sherman. “Poinciana” had a standard introduction that moved right into the number with full strength backing from the trio.
Tony Guerrero joined the trio on muted trumpet for a well-known song, “Smile.” This number was done in moderately fast tempo and the audience gave appreciative applause along the way. Very good tune picks in this set. They continued with “Mahana De Carnival,” Guerrero added in on flugelhorn setting up some beautiful solos for both Cohen’s brilliant piano work and a big bass solo by Russell. “You Don’t Know What Love Is” had a lot of rhythmic interludes and the group ended the first set with Dizzy Gillespie’s the great classic “Manteca,” also giving way for a huge drum solo from Sherman extremely well received.
The second set began with the trio doing “Billy Boy,” a tune from long ago. Everything played on this one with the trio exemplified modern swing, but again, with spectacular voicings and rhythmical movements and a dynamic ending. Next, making a meaningful tribute to Oscar Peterson, they played a Dance titled number I did not get the name of. Their drummer, Evan Sherman played lots of drumming (a vibrant excursion), adding much to this number.
A beautiful and gorgeous ballad “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” followed, making this song a standout and highlight of the evening, in my opinion, with Guerrero playing muted trumpet. This was a very suave setting for the audience, giving much more appreciative applause. Adding to this already excellent set, the group played the famous “Perdido.” Tony Guerrero made the number sound so good with his flugel horn on this one. Bassist Hall provided another fantastic big bass solo.
A surprise was also given by Hall for all of us, doing a vocal, “I’m in the Mood for Love,” with just piano and bass only. His voice was distinctive and radiant. He played a lovely bowing solo on his bass as well.
The audience gave a good amount of applause for this one.
An interesting number, “Symphonic Wraps,” by the late, great Cedar Walton played next, making a nice arrangement by Cohen and a good tribute to Walton.
Guerrero gave all of us a surprise by doing a vocal number, “When You’re Smiling” and playing trumpet in alternating choruses. He did his voice perfectly as in the original version many years back, also playing some groovy lines on his trumpet for the closing number to this eloquent concert.
Glenn A. Mitchell