Avishai Cohen Trio: Gently Disturbed (2008)
Acclaimed Israeli bassist (and accomplished pianist) Avishai Cohen brings an impressive list of credits to his first outing with a new trio. Cohen's work defies easy categorization. On bass he's performed with Brad Mehldau and Chick Corea. The long list of musicians he has accompanied on piano includes Bobby McFerrin, Roy Hargrove, Paquito D'Rivera and Nnenna Freelon, which suggests something about his range. Further still, he has performed concert works with the London and Israeli Philharmonics.
So what does the music of his newly reconfigured trio sound like? Featuring eight original compositions (written either by Cohen or by the trio collaboratively) and one traditional Israeli song, Gently Disturbed is a blend of melody, groove, complexity and simplicity that is beyond definition. The opening tune, "Seattle," begins with a bucolic piano interlude by Shai Maestro that is very gradually augmented by Mark Guiliana's brushes. What seems to be almost a chamber piece gradually shifts to Latin-style melody and rhythm as Cohen joins in. With a subtle ease, the pastoral evolves into something sensual.
The title tune begins with a dark and repetitious series of bass notes. Think shades of Ravel meet Philip Glass. The mood is lulling and just at the edge of ominous. If where we're going is uncertain, it is about the journey. What follows immediately is "The Ever Evolving Etude." The trio kicks the mood up to vibrant as Bach goes mucho mambo. Although they sound nothing like the Modern Jazz Quartet, like MJQ, their sophisticated ways tantalize and require attentive, open ears.
Track Listing: Seattle; Chutzpann; Lo Baiom Velo Balyla; Pinzin Kinzin; Puncha Puncha; Eleven Wives; Gently Disturbed; The Ever Evolving Etude; Variations in G Minor; Unray; Structure in Emotion.
Personnel: Avishai Cohen: bass; Mark Guiliana: drums; Shai Maestro: piano.