Avishai Cohen – Arvoles – Razdaz

by | Oct 18, 2019 | Jazz CD Reviews | 0 comments

Avishai Cohen – Arvoles – [TrackList follows] – Razdaz [dist. by Sunnyside] SSC4619, 41:20 [6/14/19] ****:

Bassist Avishai Cohen has followed quite a musical path over 20 years. Cohen’s latest stop on his journey is the 41-minute, ten-track Arvoles. The album title translates as ‘trees’ in the ancient Ladino language, which spread throughout Europe and into Israel during the Jewish diaspora. Arvoles is the 17th release from the composer and band leader. At this point in Cohen’s travels he looks back. His new compositions focus on self-reflection, memory and recollection. He notes, “Nostalgia at its best is the strongest, most romantic, sincere, bitter-sweet feeling. And I agree it’s all over the record.” Tunes such as the classically-tinted “Childhood,” the grooving “New York 90’s” and the slightly melancholy “Nostalgia” suggest the past shaping the present. Echoing a sense of reminiscence and family, Cohen includes one of his mother’s paintings on the front cover, melding yesterday firmly with today.

The beautifully recorded trio project has Cohen on acoustic, stand-up bass; Azerbaijani pianist Elchin Shirinov (credits include bassist Ben Street and drummer Jeff Ballard) and Israeli drummer Noam David. The trio is supplemented on five selections by Scandinavian flutist Anders Hagberg (currently Professor of Musical Performance, Improvisation at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden) and trombonist Björn Samuelsson.

All the pieces except the title track are Cohen originals. The trio provides supple interpretation to the traditional Jewish folk song, “Arvoles,” highlighted by Shirinov’s sublime keyboard lines, Cohen’s mellifluous bass and David’s lithe cymbals and brushes. Another trio presentation is the rhythmically intriguing “Face Me,” where Cohen showcases his arco bass skills and some neo-classical touches while David and Shirinov supply an intricate percussive backing. Then there is the upbeat and sprightly “Elchinov”—evidently penned as a tribute to the pianist—which combines parts of the keyboardist’s first and last names. The four-minute cut moves and skitters with a dominant sensibility which has a modernist mannerism. There’s a similar sensitivity to “Gesture #1,” which also has a contemporary consideration accentuated by minimalist notes crosshatched with metrical complexity. The final trio performance is the sepia-shaded “Nostalgia,” which is like a soundtrack to viewing household walls filled with photos of generations of uncles, aunts, cousins, grandparents and so on. The music is cheerful as the smiles seen in framed pictures and at other times the music is pensive, akin to serious visages of relatives taken during somber occasions.

The five compositions with Hagberg and Samuelsson escalate the material, augmenting Cohen’s arrangements with more coloring, interplay and complementary communication. “Gesture #2” is quiet and contemplative where Hagberg’s flute nicely floats in the upper register, contrasted by Cohen’s bass and David’s drums, which are in the lower spectrum. “Gesture #2” has a delicate Americana ambiance with an impression of open spaces, where wind rustles expanses of leaves, grass or wheat. The wistful “Childhood (for Carmel)” conveys a grey-glistened dimness, perhaps inspired by thoughts of mortality, loss of a loved one and gloom-lit casualty. On the other hand, the album concludes with two optimistic and melodically joyful quintet numbers. The three-minute “New York 90’s” is replete with a good-time gracefulness, conceivably a reminder of Cohen’s own youthfulness when he was ready, raring and wanted to show the world what a young jazz artist had to offer. During “New York 90’s” Samuelsson presents a notable solo spotlight. The 4:29 “Wings” has a comparable confidence and displays the group’s full interaction as they work through Cohen’s arrangement, which shifts from modern jazz to post-bop and back again. Jazz fans might have missed hearing Arvoles when it was issued in the summer. Take a chance and hear Cohen’s music, which is spirited, satiating and a subtle listening experience. Lars Nilsson—who recorded, mixed and mastered at Nilento Studio in Gothenburg, Sweden—did a fantastic job capturing the music’s nuances, details and structures.

Performing Artists:
Avishai Cohen – bass, co-producer; Elchin Shirinov – piano; Noam David – drums; Björn Samuelsson – trombone (tracks 1, 4, 6, 9-10); Anders Hagberg – flute (tracks 1, 4, 6, 9-10)

Face Me
New York 90’s

—Doug Simpson


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