In the late 1990s, bassist Avishai Cohen was living and working in New York, having arrived a few years earlier from Israel. Out of the blue he received a phone call from Chick Corea which effectively changed his life. Not only did Corea offer Cohen a recording contract on the pianist's Stretch label, he also invited him to join him in a new acoustic group, Origins. This association culminated in a handful of albums between 1997 and 2000, with both Origins and Corea's New Trio which included Jeff Ballard on drums. From his 1998 debut on Stretch, Adama, Cohen has released well over a dozen albums under his own name, simultaneously introducing many and varied trios and groups, mirroring his mentor Corea's imperative for creative development. Pianist Elchin Shirinov hails from Azerbaijan and astonishingly never attended music school. But he gained tutelage from some leading keyboardists including Kevin Hays and Jean-Michel Pilc. Born in 1971, Noam David, a drummer and composer, hails from Jerusalem and, as attested by his contribution to this album, fulfils his role with panache.
Arvoles (meaning "trees" in the ancient Ladino language) opens with "Simonero," introduced by Cohen's solo pizzicato bass, swiftly joined by piano drums and shortly after by the surprisingly full-sounding ensemble of flute and trombone. This is a beguiling combination of instruments that's repeated on half of the ten tracks here. The title track is a neo-baroque trio piece, performed with delicacy, David's brushed drums providing a sonic wash for Cohen's pizzicato bass solo whereas Cohen's dynamic arco bass contribution on "Face M" is spectacularly virtuosic. The sumptuously thematic strains of "Gesture #2" are echoed by the neo-classical quintet arrangement of "Childhood (For Carmel)" accentuated by alternating arco and pizzicato bass. The tune is overlaid by elegant flute and plaintive trombone extemporisation. Cohen adds substantial gravitas to "Elchinov" with lugubrious arco bass.
"Gesture #1" is characterised by a more strident rhythm but affords ample opportunity for Shirinov to stretch out on his sprightly solo, the trio evoking the Scott LaFaro-era Bill Evans trio in its prime. The aptly-titled, wistful "Nostalgia" is, dominated by Shirinov's lissom piano and deftly subtle drumming whilst Cohen contributes a typically piquant solo. The sultry arrangement of "New York 90s" is underpinned by a rocky bass and drum pulse with an indelible piano melody overlaid by a breezy contrapuntal response from the trombone and flute, that's both evocative and memorable. The perky closer, "Wings" benefits from a catchy melody and canny arrangement that almost gives the impression of a big band in the ensemble passages.
Simonero; Arvoles; Face Me; Gesture #2; Elchinov; Childhood (For Carmel); Gesture #1; Nostalgia; New York 90's; Wings.
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