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Trumpeter Avishai Cohen has had a varied musical career. He toured with the Young Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra and then went into a wider spectrum playing jazz, pop and rock. However, it was when he was at Smalls jazz club in New York, that he had the opportunity to interact and expand his musical horizons with Jason Lindner, Claudia Acuna and Omer Avital. Cohen carries his wide-ranging vision with effect into After The Big Rain.
The title tune sandwiches the selections, the last being an "Epilogue. The first has an underlying power brought to the front by singer Lionel Loueke, his voice a worthy minstrel. Although the words are in Fon, the language of Benin, West Africa; the listener is drawn into the emotional vortex that Loueke creates. Cohen brings in a seductive tensile quality, letting the lines of his trumpet inveigle their way into the melody before he sprays the mellowness with a welter of notes to break up the linear movement. The epilogue shines from the interaction that takes place. Cohen, Daniel Freedman (percussion), Loueke (guitar), and Yosavany Terry ( chekere) stimulate an effervescent air. Add Loueke's vocals, both sung and spoken, and the tune stamps its undeniable class.
The fermenting tide of "Parto Forte is a melting pot from which emerge African rhythm, jazz harmony, free movement, and a dollop of funk. The shift comes in gradually, the chekere and the vocals sashaying in before Cohen shapes it with a structured melody. His jazz instincts serve the tune well and bring it to the forefront. The rhythm bed stirs headily as Cohen continues to recharge the melody with intense phrases that jump and probe. Jason Lindner (keyboards and Fender Rhodes) uncoils light and slowly, his lope to the Rhodes unlocking a percolating swizzle of notes. Cohen then funks in as he filters his trumpet through electronic effects.
This CD is the first in a trilogy. Before The Big Rain and The Big Rain: Birth of the World are set to follow. On the evidence here, the wait is salivating.
Track Listing: After the Big Rain; Parto Forte; Gbede Temin; Meditation on Two Chords; Afterthoughts (Mozartine); Miryama; African Daisy (La Suite African); After the Big Rain(Epilogue).
Personnel: Avishai Cohen: trumpet & FXs; Lionel Loueke: guitar & vocals; Jason Lindner: keyboards and Fender Rhodes; Omer Avital: acoustic bass; Daniel Freedman: drums and percussion; Yosvany Terry: chekere (1, 2, 7, 8).
Years ago now--in Rhodesia--listening to Voice of America with Willis Conover I heard Bunk Johnson play When The Saints Go Marching In, and Billie Holiday sing Don't Explain. I knew then there was no other life for me than jazz.