It’s true, one can’t always appraise a book by its cover. Looking at bassist Avishai Cohen’s grim visage on the jacket of Adama, I was expecting to hear music of a similar temperament within. And while there are a few brooding passages, most of Cohen’s music — he wrote 11 of the disc’s dozen selections — is upbeat and buoyant. Melodically and rhythmically in the mainstream, it’s also eccentric enough to capture one’s interest and bear repeated listening (lend an ear, for example, to the captivating Middle Eastern influences that enliven “Madrid” and “Adama,” or the vibrant African–centered cadences of “Gadu”). Besides writing interesting lines, Cohen is a remarkably talented player whose marvelous technique and clear intonation serve an always–inventive conception. He receives earnest support from front–liners Wilson (who may have found his niche on soprano) and Davis, rhythm mates Lindner and Ballard, and guests Mehldau and Rossi (in a trio setting of “Bésame Mucho”) and Rossi, Corea, Perez and Alias (on “Gadu”). Hoffman, who plays oud on “Madrid,” “Dror“ and “Adama,” offers a superb guitar solo on “No Change.” Mehldau is a well–chosen companion on “Bésame Mucho,” while Corea (on Fender Rhodes) and Perez are sublime soulmates on “Gadu.” As for Cohen, he has ample space to unlimber his formidable chops, especially on “Bass & Bone Fantasy,” “Bésame Mucho” and his “Bass Suites” Nos. 1 and 2. Although the session falls short of memorable, it is consistently enterprising and exceedingly well–played, and the assessment from this vantage point is that we’ll soon be hearing much more from Mr. Cohen.
Ora; Madrid; Bass Suite No. 1; Reunion of the Souls; Dror; No Change; Bass & Bone Fantasy; Adama; Bass Suite No. 2; B
Avishai Cohen, acoustic bass; Steve Wilson, soprano saxophone; Steve Davis, trombone; Jeff Ballard, drums, percussion; Jordy Rossi, drums; Jason Lindner, Brad Mehldau (