Adama

Avishai Cohen – Bassist and Composer
Audio Mixer: Bernie Kirsh.
Photographer: John Harrell.

Personnel:

Avishai Cohen (acoustic bass); Claudia Acuna (vocals); Steve Wilson (soprano saxophone); Steve Davis (trombone); Jason Lindner, Brad Mehldau, Danilo Perez (piano); Chick Corea (Fender Rhodes); Amos Hoffman (guitar, oud); Jeff Ballard (drums, percussion); Jordy Rossi (drums); Don Alias (congas).

Avishai Cohen showed enormous promise as both a composer and an acoustic bassist on his first album as a leader, Adama, which he produced with Chick Corea for the company Corea co-owned, Stretch records. Reminding listeners of his Israeli heritage, the post-bopper brings a heavy Middle Eastern influence to such impressive originals as “Reunion of the Souls,” “Ora,” and “No Change.” Although Cohen’s 1997 music wasn’t innovative — John Coltrane, Yusef Lateef, and Miles Davis successfully experimented with Middle Eastern elements when they embraced modal jazz in the late ’50s — Adama has a certain freshness to it. “Madrid,” “Dror,” and the title song find one of Cohen’s sidemen, Amos Hoffman, putting down his guitar in favor of the oud, and his use of this lute (which is prominent in traditional Arabic music) works so well in a jazz setting that one wishes Cohen employed Hoffman on the instrument even more. Cohen’s Spanish-influenced “Gadu,” meanwhile, features Corea on electric keyboards. Captivating from start to finish, Adama made it clear that Cohen