LABELS: Blue Note
PERFORMER: Avishai Cohen (vocals, bass), Shai Maestro (piano), Itamar Doari (drums), Amos Hoffman (oud), Karen Malka (vocals)
CATALOGUE NO: 694 9172
Bass players are rarely the star of the show. But Blue Note’s Avishai Cohen has burned bright on the European jazz scene for several years, selling out everywhere.
A restless soul, he recently quit Paris returning to his native Israel to form a new (local) band and acquire a sound that speaks of his roots. The bigger surprise for fans is that Cohen found a new voice – literally.
The bassman now sings, applying a velvety textured tone to reflective themes in Hebrew, English and Ladino (a judeo/spanish dialect), criss-crossing Mediterranean cultures. Unlike the sophisticated modern jazz he is usually associated with, Cohen has stripped the music down, creating a laid back ambience that feeds the soul more than the intellect. He’s also invented a musical world that is as open to Arab influences as Hebraic.
And while some Cohen fans might be unimpressed, this lovely album will broaden his audience. Garry Booth