3 Cohens – Tightrope – Anzic ANZ 0043, 57:28 ****:
(Anat Cohen – tenor sax, clarinet, bass clarinet; Yuval Cohen – soprano sax; Avishai Cohen – trumpet; Fred Hersch – piano 3, 9, 12; Johnathan Blake – drums 5; Christian McBride – bass 6 only)
If you are looking for standard jazz fare from the album 3 Cohens Tightrope you have clearly stumbled across the wrong album. However, if something slightly more daring is to you’re liking, then clearly this is the right place.
These sibling Cohens are clever, substantial artists either separately or together, and this project features their togetherness. There is an interdependence that manifests itself in their music that starts with the opening track written by Art Farmer entitled “Blueport” which was first played by the piano-less Gerry Mulligan Quartet and later picked up by Mulligan’s Concert Jazz Band. Here the a cappella horns play off each other in contrapuntal fashion which they extend later in the album with the Mulligan composition “Festive Minor” both of which have a bluesy appeal.
Although this session is mostly about the Cohens, they have invited some of their musical friends to join in, specifically pianist Fred Hersch on three tracks with bassist Christian McBride and drummer Johnathan Blake on one each. While Hersch is never less than scintillating on all three efforts, he is particularly effective on”Song Without Words No. 4: Duet” which is filled with delicacy and harmonic sophistication. On the Thelonious Monk composition “I Mean You” there is an underlying dry wit to the group’s approach to the material. McBride’s big authoritative bass anchors Duke Ellington’s “Just Squeeze Me” which gives each one of the Cohens support to work their magic. Drummer Blake lays down a solid foundation upon which Avishai Cohen’s composition “Black” leaps ahead with nimbleness and imagination.
Two other offerings of note are Tadd Dameron’s “Hot House” which became part of the Bird/Dizzy bebop tradition where the Cohen’s make short work of the complex chord changes. Louis Armstrong brought “Indiana” into his repertoire as part of the New Orleans tradition giving the Cohens an opportunity to do their second-line thing. There are five brief baubles that fall under the rubric of Conversations and are totally improvised pieces each of which lets the siblings take flight in a game of musical chairs.
This is a thoughtful album filled with inventiveness and musicality.
TrackList: Blueport; Conversation #1; Song Without Words #4: Duet; Conversation #2; Black; Just Squeeze Me; Hot House; There’s No You; Estate; Conversation #3; Indiana; I Mean You; It Might As Well; Festive Minor; Conversation #4; Conversation #5; Ai Li Lu Li Lu; Mantra