All About Jazz – live review from ‘Alfa Jazz’

A beautiful review of Avishai’s performance at the Lviv Jazz Festival in June 2017, with the INSO-Lviv Orchestra.


…There were two sets on the main stage that will be long remembered, especially by those of us who had never heard Avishai Cohen with a symphony orchestra, and those of us who had been asleep on Chucho Valdes.

You knew that the Cohen concert was going to be a formidable occasion when the members of the INSO-Lviv Orchestra began to file on stage.

They just kept coming, all 60 of them. They played an overture by themselves, then Cohen walked to center stage and picked up his bass.

He has something more jazz musicians could use: an instinct for showmanshipHe is a natural diva. Even before he played a note, he responded to the orchestra when it began, his eyes closed, wincing, swaying to the music.

It is not uncommon for a jazz musician to be a featured soloist with a symphony orchestra. But it was striking to witness 60 musicians all assembled to serve one acoustic bassist. Of course, in Cohen’s hands, an acoustic bass becomes a fully articulate vehicle for expression. There have been many versions of Thad Jones’s “A Child Is Born,” but none more majestic. The orchestra, with Omri Mor, Cohen’s talented young Israeli pianist, first rendered it en masse, then cleared the way for Cohen’s rapt solo, then returned to absorb Cohen into their vastness. The orchestra, under the direction of Myroslav Skoryk (billed as a “legendary composer” and a “People’s Artist of Ukraine”), played beautifully. They sounded like on enormous sighing voice.

The program of Cohen arrangements included old Hebrew songs, “a Spanish-Jewish song from 500 years ago,” Cohen hits like “Remembering” and “Seven Seas,” and standards like “Nature Boy.” Cohen often sang. His soft, haunting voice is not quite of this world. When he sang in Hebrew, with the orchestra whispering behind him, he turned the Eddie Rosner Stage into a silent setting for a liturgical ceremony. With his bass, he sometimes created a headlong momentum similar to the infectious grooves he generates with his trio, but on a symphonic scale. These pieces kept bearing down upon you, like trains.

In the last couple of years Cohen has played around 16 concerts with almost that many different symphony orchestras in Europe.

None of these projects have yet been recorded and none have come to the United States. Based on the evidence of Lviv, they are the optimal formal for Cohen. With a symphony orchestra around him, his flair for the dramatic finds its ideal aesthetic environment.


Read the whole article HERE

Avishai Cohen