Orchestral Work

Youri Lenquette

‘An Evening with Avishai Cohen’

Over the past two decades, the bassist, singer, composer, innovator and jazz visionary, Avishai Cohen, has earned his reputation as one of the greatest bass players of his generation. His compositions reflect an expansive musical universe and embrace a vital blend of traditions, cultures, languages and styles, from Hebrew and Ladino folk songs and jazz standards, to pulsating contemporary jazz and recently Avishai has been creating and performing more music and arrangements associated with Western classical music. Now, following on from the hugely successful release of Almah (Warner/Parlophone, 2013), a unique project which combined Trio with a string quartet, Avishai now takes further steps into the future, with Trio and Orchestra. It is the culmination of his musical journey, and bringing two worlds together – classical and jazz.

An Evening with Avishai Cohen features his dynamic core Trio of double bass, drums and piano, while the sophisticated, legitimate integration of symphony orchestra lends an added dimension to Cohen’s distinctive sound. Programmes include settings of Cohen’s own contemporary jazz and world music compositions, orchestrated traditional Hebrew and Ladino songs, and selected classical works, while the arrangements span set-ups for solo, trio and full orchestra. The result is an exhilarating musical experience, intimate yet high impact.

Avishai Cohen, both on double bass and vocals, was stellar. We will never tire of seeing how he is capable of hogging all the limelight, of guiding all eyes. The Israeli is famous for always bringing together a magnificent band, ….Both Kaspi on drums and Shirinov were an excellent touchstone.

The songs were flowing one by one, and quality dominated the whole event
Each song was a sonic journey. It was a pleasure to close your eyes and imagine what was coming into your ears in an action movie, or on extraordinary prairies with horses shot by John Ford, or even Lawrence of Arabia, and Two Roses could have been an extraordinary and masculine version theme of a James Bond film, agent 007.
The arranger had known when to stop the trio or when to give them time and this spared us the unorganic tumult that comes with some "experiments" between strings, large ensembles and improvising formations. The concert was, of course, completely planned, so that the coordination and harmony ran like clockwork. We also particularly enjoyed Emotional Storm.
As a great master of ceremonies, Cohen knew how to give a brilliant time to his own people. Indeed, there was no shortage of golden moments from the pianist and drummer. Kaspi in particular had two stellar solo moments which clearly demonstrated her extraordinary ability on the drumheads.

Concert Dates 2024/2025

  • Two Roses

  • Emotional Storm

  • My New Orchestral album in the works...

  • INSO-Lviv Orchestra

  • l’Orchestre national d’Île-de-France!

  • An Insight into his Orchestra Project

Review: “An Evening With Avishai Cohen” and the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra (23.01.2020)

Mats Hallberg – Orkesterjournalen – Gothenburg, February 7th, 2020 (English translation)

Of all the times the Israeli super bassist Avishai Cohen has visited Sweden, I have only seen him this one time. Of the seventeen albums he has released, I have only listened carefully to one of them (“Arvoles” June 2019, his latest, which I also recently reviewed). Nevertheless, I thought I recognized a bright, embracing sound, whose purpose it is to break boundaries. Cohen’s current project is called 50:50:50, which should be interpreted as celebrating his 50th birthday by performing 50 concerts in 50 countries. The only concert in Sweden was located at the Gothenburg Concert Hall, the home ground for the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra. On stage, Avishai Cohen’s trio was accompanied by our eminent National Orchestra led by Alexander Hansson, an orchestra I have enjoyed countless times. The two-hour schedule was kept despite the five extra songs. Nilento – Cohen’s favorite record studio team – was there for the recording of the show and its rehearsals.

The Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra opened alone on stage with two original Cohen orchestral pieces, creating soaring sounds and pleasantly suggestive tones. Next, the protagonist entered the stage together with pianist Elchin Shirinov from Azerbaijan and the rhythmic phenomenon Mark Guiliana (whom I have heard live before) from New Jersey. The performance turned into a haunting event with both explosive and lyrical elements. High expectations were met with praise by an artist who is said to be among the hundred most significant players of his instrument. I was surprised by Cohen’s singing in Hebrew, Ladino and English. I found that he has a sentimental vein, which fits naturally in his repertoire. Vocally, he was most at home singing ethnic tunes, while he still succeeded superbly in the blue-hearted “Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child” and in the evergreen “Nature Boy”.

Distinctions are difficult, sometimes unnecessary. Still, the extraordinary combo of a virtuoso piano trio and a tagged, high-class symphony orchestra makes for a sweet music that would be misleading to call jazz. This is no valuation, just a fact! Much of the program can be attributed to expansive world music with a touch of art music. Eastern tradition marries Western tone, a happy marriage the audience welcomed through standing ovations. The 49-year-old lead the party, presenting and garnishing the show with heart-breaking bass escapades. Much solo space was given to Shirinov, who impressed the audience with wonderfully melodic runs at the grand piano. Guiliana kept a low profile for a long time during the show, usually whisking on his drums. In the end, he was assigned a couple of departures in which he proved his star status. The refined dialogues between instruments excited the audience. When the trio and the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra were at their peak, a breathtaking, dramatic nerve gave rise to an electric atmosphere in the Concert Hall. The perfect acoustics did not make the euphoria any less intense. Cohen rhetorically commented on a resounding applause: “You like it fast?” By contrast, “A Child Is Born” and a tender Hebrew love song were performed as a follow-up.

The finale vibrated with wellbeing and hope through the cheeky, choppy beats by Guiliana in the incredible piece “Emotional Storm”, arranged by Sweden’s own Per Ekdahl. What a beautiful evening for us live music enthusiasts! All of you who could not attend this sold out event have an exceptional record to look forward to.

(Source: OrkesterJournalen)

Press Quotes

  • “With complex, partially polyrhythmic pieces and the surprisingly elegant transitions between improvised jazz sections and orchestra, this was is a great achievement, good job!”Kultursegler, February 2018

  • “How Cohen works on his bass and plays his solos even where the neck of the instrument ends long before, buidling in the midst of virtuoso runs a short quote from the ‘Pink Panther’ theme, comes though. a small wink to all bass students in the world. It was pure enjoyment to behold as was the entire concert.” Kultursegler

  • “With a symphony orchestra around him, his flair for the dramatic finds its ideal aesthetic environment.”All About Jazz

  • “Simply said, a memorable concert.”Toute La Culture

  • “It was crossover and then some, and Cohen looks like he’s going a long way with it.”The Guardian (Strings Project)

  • “A wonderful evening filled with freedom and emotion”.Rhein-Neckar Zeitung (Heidelberg Classical Festival)

  • “He has something more jazz musicians could use: an instinct for showmanship.”All About Jazz

  • “Bassist Avishai Cohen performs a medley of Arabic melodies and quirky harmonies which provide a fiery groove when combined with the Chamber Orchestra.”Mannheimer Morgen, Mar 2015

A Word From PolyArts / HarrisonParrott

“We are very excited to be supporting Avishai’s new venture into the classical world with his orchestral project “An Evening with Avishai Cohen“. Avishai, as we all know is an extremely talented and established musician in the Jazz world, with a huge international profile.

His constant innovation and works, combined with his vast musical knowledge and unique compositions continue to excite and inspire all types of audience. This distinctive partnership is a perfect fit for Polyarts (HarrisonParrott), who aim to blur the lines and break down barriers between genres, and increasingly eclecticise international programming, bringing the best quality music, artist and innovation to our clients and most importantly; fans and a wider audience.”
– (Moema Parrott, Polyarts / HarrisonParrott)

For booking enquiries, please contact:
Moema Parrott
Email: Moema.parrott@harrisonparrott.co.uk
Tel: +44 (0)78 8466 4051