Unity

COMPOSERS: Avishai Cohen
LABELS: Stretch
ALBUM TITLE: Avishai Cohen & the International Vamp Band
PERFORMER: Avishai Cohen (p, b), Yagil Baras (b), Antonio Sanchez (d), Avi Lebovich (tb), Yosvany Terry (as, ts, chekere), Diego Urcola (t, flg)
CATALOGUE NO: SCD-9036-2 (distr. Concorde)

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Avishai Cohen is the New York-based Israeli bass player who came to the international stage with Chick Corea’s Origin and New Trio groups. Now he’s making waves with his own groups. Cohen says he is greatly influenced by Corea’s method and the bassist’s work here has a similar precise, shiny quality.

The Vamp Band is an intriguing mix of Middle Eastern and Latin jazz, with the emphasis on the latter. The term ‘vamp’ suggests a music based on simple repeated passages. But Cohen’s compositions are more sophisticated than that and the ensemble parts are more than an introduction to featured soloists.

The band’s take on Thad Jones’s ‘A Child is Born’ (the only non-original piece) unfolds beautifully against Cohen’s intricate bass part. The brass section has each tune firmly in the pocket, Terry and Urcola confidently trading bright, punchy solos throughout. The fact that Cohen – a bassist – is leading from the piano is interesting.

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He’s no Chick Corea, but has a light touch, a pleasant sound and a captivating way of hanging behind the beat. Certainly, the piano is a better place to lead from and Cohen achieves the cohesive groove he so admires in Corea’s music. Garry Booth