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Brian Lynch and Emmet Cohen: Questioned Answer

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Brian Lynch met Emmet Cohen in 2011 when he began teaching at the Frost School of Music at the University of Miami, where Cohen was an undergraduate. Three tracks on this album, all standards, are trumpet/piano duos. Six tracks, all originals, add Boris Kozlov on bass and Billy Hart on drums.

Lynch is an elite trumpet player. From the opening quartet piece, his own “Cambios,” he reminds you why cavalries used buglers to sound the charge. His commanding announcements flow into complicated concepts, which he executes with clarity and precision. Unlike many skilled practitioners of his instrument, he rarely sounds technical. His ventures have an edge of personal urgency. Considered as a trumpet recital, Questioned Answer is a substantial document.

But the surprise here is Cohen. When established veterans make records with their students, they are usually doing favors. Not this time. Take “How Deep Is the Ocean.” Lynch implies the melody in a freehand sketch. Then Cohen takes over, bursting with new ideas about Irving Berlin’s old song. His solo is multiple lines of thought sustained concurrently. Lots of young pianists have chops and energy, but Cohen also has an instinct for meaningful aesthetic form. His spilling runs and chiming resolutions are necessary to an overall design.

Theme statements tend to be loose with the facts, and in the give-and-take, Cohen matches his teacher, thrust for thrust. Cohen instigates in the ensemble, with jabbing, provocative comping. His solo on his own “Distant Hallow” makes as many startling hard turns as anything Lynch plays. On “Buddy,” Lynch’s convoluted, vivid solo is not easy for a young player to follow. Cohen embeds his response within Hart’s thrashing cymbals. He sounds undaunted. It should be fun to watch his future unfold.

Originally Published