This is Israeli–born bassist Avishai Cohen’s second recording as leader, and, like the first, it is comprised mainly of his compositions (an even dozen, plus the traditional “Linda de Mi Corazon” and pianist Lindner’s “Candela City”), which I described in an earlier review as “upbeat and buoyant” (and which for the most part remain so on Devotion ). There were two Bass Suites on Cohen’s debut, Adama, and this one includes “Bass Suite No. 3,” parts 1 and 2, on which Cohen plays the melody and displays his robust timbre and formidable chops (overdubbing, on Part 2, electric bass atop the acoustic). There is something more to be said about Cohen’s approach, and that is that it interfuses luminous aspects of contemporary Jazz with the age–old musical traditions of his homeland to create a tapestry that is often more colorful and persuasive than others woven entirely from the threads of Jazz itself. This is discernible throughout, but especially so when Cohen’s core group is augmented by a string quartet (the leisurely, quasi–classical “Ti Da Doo Di Da”); vocalist Claudia Acuña (“Linda de Mi Corazon”) or when guitarist Hoffman moves from guitar to oud and Greene from saxophone to flute (“Musa”). Besides playing acoustic and electric basses, Cohen quadruples on piano, synthesizer and percussion, but we aren’t told on which selections he does so. Cohen’s sidemen are earnest and industrious, but their channels for spontaneous expression are generally subordinated to the needs of the ensemble (although Davis, Greene, Lindner and Hoffman solo convincingly whenever called upon). The jaunty opening number, “El Capitan,” is dedicated to one of Cohen’s mentors, Horace Silver; the second, “The Gift,” to his friend, Chick Corea (for whose Stretch label Cohen records); and Part 1 of “Bass Suite No. 3” to his sister, Galia Luz. The disc embodies the briefest track we’ve heard this year (perhaps ever), “Igor” (all of four seconds long), which consists of someone (Cohen, we assume), saying, “Igor, come, we play slow tune” (which isn’t that slow, really). If not appreciably stronger than Adama, Cohen’s second visit to the recording studio is at least on a par with his debut, one that we praised as “consistently enterprising and exceedingly well–played.” We’ll stand by that.
Track listing: El Capitan & the Ship at Sea; The Gift; Bass Suite #3, Part 1; Ot Kain; Angels of Peace; Ti Da Doo Di Da; Linda de Mi Corazon; Deep Blue; Igor; Slow Tune; Negril; Musa; Candela City; Bass Suite #3, Part 2 (62:07).
Avishai Cohen, acoustic and electric bass, piano, synthesizer, percussion; Jason Lindner, piano; Jimmy Greene, tenor, soprano sax, flute; Steve Davis, trombone; Amos Hoffman, guitar, oud; Jeff Ballard, drums, percussion; Ida Levin, Carmit Zori, violin; Robert Rinehart, viola; Fred Sherry, cello; Claudia Acu