Press, Reviews

Jazzmagazine review

Jazzmagazine review

But the star of the evening is undoubtedly Avishai Cohen and his trio.

Since emerging as a member of Chick Corea’s trio in 1997, Israeli-born double bassist Avishai Cohen has become a world star for his double bass sound, which combines the purity of cello with the drama of percussion, and for his original compositions embracing American jazz, Latin music, Sephardic Jewish folk songs, avant-funk, orchestral works and even pop-tinged vocals. Tonight, it’s the album ‘Shifting Sands’ that takes to the stage, a radical new departure in the bassist’s career – more austere, simpler, coming directly from the leader’s palpable pleasure in playing with energetic soul mates. Tonight, the trio is in close formation: the pianist is Guy Moscovich, and on drums, the one who is just as responsible for the colour of the album as Avishai himself, Roni Kaspi, a 21-year-old Israeli on the rise. This concert brought together all Avishai Cohen’s Alsatian fans, and the atmosphere on the Esplanade was insane. The entire sound spectrum was exploited on stage. The lowest frequencies are obviously Cohen’s prerogative, while Kaspi takes the counterpoint by multiplying the rimshots, playing with a closed hi-hat and often on the hard edge of his wrinkle. The pianist often finds himself confined to ostinati, to the chord progressions of the piece, in the mid-range, which sometimes makes him forgettable… But in many compositions, structured around repeated loops and leading to a kind of trance on stage and in the audience, his role is crucial.

The characteristic themes of Cohen’s songs abound: the eight-note piano hook of Intertwined, beneath the bass-driven folk melody, is manhandled by Kaspi’s lively, criss-crossing interjections; or, in the luminous dance of The Window, Moscovich’s spinning elisions on the resolving figures sound like the phrasing of a singer. The hymn Dvash develops over an elegant piano/bass counterpoint (vaguely reminiscent of the classic dialogues of the legendary Modern Jazz Quartet) but irrepressibly disrupted by Kaspi’s asymmetrical motifs. 

Cohen’s vivacious bass improvisation and Roni Kaspi’s contrasting, unflappable lyricism shine through this fine set, and the playing is incandescent. The tension mounts for an hour and a half, and everything explodes on the final track, so much so that Roni Kaspi delivers an anthology solo, lasting no less than 7 minutes! This is followed by an astonishing encore, where the evening comes to a gentle end with Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child, Avishai Cohen solo, doubling his vocal chords with his bow, in a frantic and poignant blues.

Read the original review in french here:

Avishai Cohen