Many musicians dream of making a record with a symphony orchestra, but few can afford to make it a reality. Thanks to an extraordinary ability to compose melodies that take root in his listeners’ minds and because he has, for years, patiently performed these compositions on stage to the point where they are practically a part of him, Avishai Cohen was well-positioned to execute such an ambition. As Cohen himself notes, his songs seem predisposed to adaptation at an orchestral scale, and the fact that they retain the same intensity that has provoked such widespread admiration demonstrates the vigor of his music.
Avishai Cohen had been dreaming of this experience for over a decade. Two Roses is the result of a long process, with his trio and his collaboration with the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Alexander Hanson, Cohen proves that this foray into classical music was not a passing whim but rather a sincere expression of his desire to remain free from the boundaries of “genre” — a term he admits to loathing.
Cohen’s music is an intricate tapestry of global and historical influence. A master of Afro- Caribbean music, Cohen has absorbed its complexity to the point that it has had an enduring impact on the rhythmic designs he creates for his trio, and a lasting effect on his musical contemporaries. “Playing and singing one’s own music with a symphony orchestra is something special, it’s an experience that is as strong as it is specific,” says Cohen.
Cohen did not embark on this adventure alone. His trusted trio includes two musicians for whom he is full of praise. Azerbaijani pianist Elchin Shirinov, who appeared on Cohen’s previous record, Arvoles, plays with lyricism and clarity. And New Jersey – native drummer Mark Guiliana, with whom Cohen revolutionized the trio’s approach in the 2000s, protects the groove and rhythmic sharpness specific to Cohen’s music. And of course, there are the 92 talented women and men of the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra.
“An orchestra has its own rhythm,” he explains. “Of course, 92 people won’t play a beat like two or three people would. There’s a kind of inertia, which you have to get used to, and you have to understand how they breathe. It’s like a horse, at once beautiful, powerful and delicate. “When you listen to this record, it feels like embracing a journey, entering my world, in a deeper and denser way,” he says.
On Two Roses, the only things that count are performance, emotion and the personal expression of a citizen of the world who sees music as his only true homeland.