Banda ‘Iroko’

Over the last twenty-five years Internationally acclaimed bassist, singer, and composer Avishai Cohen, has grown to be one of the heavyweights of contemporary jazz, with a catalogue to rival those of even the most legendary in the field of jazz… and beyond.

His captivating live performances, unique sound and musical statement are now extensively known throughout every corner of the world, attracting large live audiences, listeners and passionate fans. Cohen’s music has shaped and influenced many.

Avishai Cohen presents a new banda and live project for a world tour in 2023. In support of his new album ‘ Iroko’ with Abraham Rodrigues Jr. 

Released worldwide from May 5th 2023 (Naïve)  ‘Iroko‘ is inspired and derived from the tradition and rooted in Afro-Caribbean music.  Alongside him on stage are some of the very first musicians he performed with in NYC, within the small club scene downtown, back in the early 90s.

‘’ ‘Iroko’ is a long-time dream I have had since knowing and playing with Abraham Rodrigues Jnr. A great unique singer, congero and master of Afro-Caribbean music in its full spectrum. I have assembled this all-star band to now execute live this amazing project ‘Iroko’ ‘’ Avishai Cohen, June 2022

More about; ‘Iroko’ is a  tree that is feared in some West African cultures where it originates and hence is shunned or revered with offerings. The Yoruba people believe that the tree is inhabited by a spirit, and anybody who sees the Iroko man face to face becomes insane and quickly dies. According to the Yoruba, any man who cuts down an Iroko tree causes devastating misfortune on themself and all of their family, although if they need to cut down the tree they can make a prayer afterwards to protect themselves. 

They also claim that the spirit of the Iroko can be heard in houses which use Iroko wood, as the spirit of the Iroko is trapped in the wood.  

Avishai Cohen Banda ‘Iroko’

Avishai Cohen – Bass, Vocals (Israel) 
Abraham Rodriguez  Jnr – Congas,Vocals (USA)
Horacio ‘El Negro’ Hernandez – Drums, Percussion (Cuba)
Yosvany Terry – Saxophone / Chekere (Cuba)
Diego Urcola – Trumpet / Flugelhorn  (Argentina)
Jose Alves –  Vocals and Percussion (Cuba) 
Virginia Alves – Vocals (Spain)

Introducing Abraham Rodriguez Jr has performed, recorded and studied for more than 40 years with most of the renowned masters of the Afro Latin and Jazz idioms, such as Orlando Rios Y Su Nueva Generacion, Andy Gonzalez and Conjunto Libre, Michele Rose woman and NewYoruba, Tania Leon, Alfredo “Chocolateo” Armenteros, Nelson Gonzalez, the CongaiKings, Rafi Malkiel, Ray Santiago, Pupi Legarretta, Pedrito Martinez, Roman Diaz, Francisco “Minini” Zamora, Changuito, Los Afortunados, Kip Hanrahan and many more. Currently, Abraham is an active member of the “Grupo Folklorico Experimental Nueva Yorquino” and the “Oyu Oro Afro-Cuban Dance Ensemble”. 

As a disciple and godson of the famed Afro-Cuban percussionist Orlando “Puntilla” Rios, Abraham has mastered the music of the Yoruba Orisha tradition now owning his own sacred bata aña drums. Abraham Rodriguez’s knowledge and mastery of ritual and secular music of the Caribbean as well as of Du-wop has made him one of the most sought-after musicians in the Afro-Latin-Jazz music scene. Notably, in 1980, he recorded with the famed Afro-Cuban rumbero Eugenio “Totico” Arango along with his godfather Puntilla combining Du-Wop with Cuban rumba, creating the inimitable Du-wop rumba genre.


Live Press

Avishai Cohen returned to Portugal

Avishai is a portentous creator who has invited us to celebrate the most positive unifying spirit of music in Lisbon.

Glam Magazine – Portugal – May 6, 2024 (read full quote here)

Banda ‘Iroko’ – Live in Paris – March 2023

The next day, the turn of Avishai Cohen and his marvellous Banda, master percussionist Abraham Rodriguez Jr. on congas and vocals, Horacio ”El Negro” Hernandez on drums and percussion, Yosvany Terry on saxophone and chekere, Diego Urcola on trumpet and flugelhorn, Jose Angel on percussion and voice, and the sublime Virginia Alves singing and dancing.

Here again, what a great artistic adventure, and what a tour of the whole world, Yoruba, Bantu, gospel, it’s a man’s man’s world, motherless child, etc. sacred songs… The Israeli double bass player and singer surrounded by USA, Cuban and Argentinian and Spanish musicians, invited us to an Afro-Caribbean set, tender and fiery rumba. 

Impossible to sit quietly on the seat, besides we ended up standing, dancing at the back of the room. When the music is good, we get up and that’s it. And we let ourselves vibrate, we let ourselves move, we let ourselves be carried away. And we thank you. We also thank the Iroko, this African tree with magical properties that can live for several centuries. Like this palimpsest music, in essence, open to all winds, all times, all genres, unique. The Châtelet did its Jazz, and it was big and beautiful, generous, I want a repeat.

Outside it was raining, it was screaming, it was demanding, it was on strike, and inside it was singing, it was dancing, it was vibrating, it was a truce, a dream of real summer in winter. We were in another world, where music erases borders, all borders. A world where music, and not just any music, Jazz, reminds us that we all cry and smile in the same language, with overflowing hearts.

Avishai Cohen Banda Iroko – Live Review @ The Chatelet – Paris. March 12th 2023 – Marc Alexandre Oho Bambe (africultures.com 11/04/2023)

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