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The title of bassist Avishai Cohen's latest CD, At Home, is a double entendre. Given the diverse geographical titles and styles of the songs, it's clear that Cohen wants to convey the notion that he's at home everywhere, musically and geographically. The core of the work centers on his trio, but it also includes a fine ensemble of musicians on other cuts to expand its range which flows from Cohen's relentless pizzicato.
The dynamic "Feediop" opens the show, with Cohen pumping the tempo and Yosvany Terry shimmering on soprano sax. Sam Barsh plays a lush, flowing piano solo while drummer Mark Guiliana keeps the pulsing vibe going. "Madrid" expands the playing field for the first time, including newcomers Anne Drummond and Tomer Tzur on flute and hand drum, respectively, plus Diego Urcola on flugelhorn and Jeff Ballard on percussion. The ensemble continues on the African-influenced "Leh-Lah," a splendidly arranged tune where Barsh augments his piano with a melodica and Terry plays chekere.
"Renouf's Last Tooth" is a tour de force, with Cohen's percolating bass, Barsh's dazzling piano work, and Guiliana's impassioned thrashing on the drums. Then there's the delicate, symphonic brass/wind combo on "Gershon Beat," where Cohen again plucks front and center. The lamenting, dolorous, slow trio piece "No Words" is followed up immediately by the up-tempo "Punk (DJN)," which features more excellent piano by Barsh. On the funk excursion gem "Saba," Cohen picks up the electric ax and Barsh plays the organ. This tune unfolds gradually from the deliberate theme and the tension builds up to a vibrant burst of colors. Cohen practically sings through his guitar, Barsh growls, Guiliana hammers the drums, and Terry plays more wicked soprano. Cohen wrote or co-wrote all of the songs here, and the excellent arrangements and wonderful playing make At Home a feast for the ears.
Track Listing: Feediop; Madrid; Leh-Lah; Remebering; Renouf's Last Tooth; Gershon Beat; No Words; Punk (DJN); Mediterranean Sun; Saba; Toledo
Personnel: Avishai Cohen (Acoustic Bass & Electric Bass); Mark Guiliana (Drums, Percussion); Sam Barsh (Piano, Organ, Fender Rhodes, Melodica)
Ensemble: Yosvany Terry (Saxophones, Chekere); Anne Drummond (Flute); Diego Urcola (Flugelhorn); Jeff Ballard (Percussion); Tomer Tzur (Hand Drum)
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.