Ah, completionism! The refuge of the ones without enough to call their own. The domain of the nerd. The zone of no return for those who choose to have something just because enough isn’t enough. Even so, it is also the scourge of the flighty, the oft distracted and musically unfocussed. For that last reason alone, I choose to be a completionist. And..err.. because Baba T and me chose to fill out our burgeoning categories of music before moving on to newer artists. Anyway, so here I am, aspiring to complete Avishai Cohen‘s (not insignificant) contributions to the world of arty-farty jazz music.
“Madrid” is probably the most immediately likeable track here, with a strong central melodic theme and with the obnoxious snaps and ticks of upright bass soloing replaced by wholesome bottom end goodness.
The other Cohen album I review recently (Gently Disturbed), is much more sparse in terms of arrangements. That was just a bass-piano-drums trio thing. Here we have the piano and bass and drums holding the fort down while assorted flautists are being flute-like and horn players are being…err….horny. Also there is not so much ‘drums’ as there is ‘percussion’. Witness the African touch throughout “Leh-Lah” and the incredible drum n’ bass like speedery on “Renoufs Last Tooth “. The Parkinsons-meets-ADHD drumming continues on “Gershon Beat”, which is insane by all yardsticks that I have heard till now. Drummers, this one is for you.
“Remembering” starts to bring forth a beautiful, lilting piano melody ably pushed along by the bass and percussion. Impressive shit. That said, this piano player, Sam Barsh, has none of the melodic grandeur and tug-the-heartstrings finish of the piano player in Gently Disturbed, Shai Maestro. I suspect this is purely because Shai Maestro has the most awesome name in the history of history besides John Rambo. Anyway, it is clear that Sam Barsh is the accompaniment player in this trio, and not the seed from which the songs spring. Of course, there are a few cuts where he exhibits his considerably skill on the piano such as (the not at all punk) “Punk”, but he is clearly not the star here. That title goes to percussionist Mark Giuiliana and the ensemble cast of flautists and horn players. Its a surprising deviation from the usual jazz norm.
The other major surprise is “Saba” which has the most amazing electric bass solo by Cohen. FINALLY, the man shows his chops on the electric bass. Why doesn’t he always play the it!? This is an excellent example of a chopsy, sinewy, very well thought out solo. Do listen. The rest of the tracks are all so-so, and sometimes tend to veer into easy-listening which, children, is not on for a jazz stalwart. The whole vibe of the record is quite relaxed, and even on a bad day, I couldn’t call this a shit record. Some cuts are great, some are not so great. I won’t be coming back to this again, but this generally sounds right.
More AVISHAI COHEN reviews HERE.
More JAZZ/JAZZ FUSION reviews HERE.
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