Avishai Cohen: Sketch of Tel Aviv & After The Big Rain

Jeff Stockton By

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Third World Love

Sketches of Tel Aviv



Avishai Cohen

After the Big Rain



Smalls in the late '90s was one of those magical places where talented musicians were given an opportunity to play what and, on most nights, for as long as they wanted. A decade later, the fruit from this fertile ground is coming in with trumpeter Avishai Cohen and his anchor, bassist Omer Avital, at the center of the harvest.

What the musicians at Smalls shared was an expansiveness that brought several complementary genres into a jazz setting, including straight-ahead swing, creative improvisation, Latin influences and, since several of the players had roots in Israel, Middle Eastern rhythms and folk forms. Sketch of Tel Aviv teams Cohen and Avital with Yonatan Avishai on piano and keyboards and Daniel Freedman on percussion for a set of accessible, tightly played, melodic tunes that reinforce the band's worldly view. The title track comes across as a wedding dance, buoyed by Cohen's echoing trumpet, while on "Suzanna his electronic effects create the mood of an Eddie Hazel solo in a Funkadelic ballad. The band asserts itself on "A Touch of Tahini , with an olympian bass solo kicking things off before piano chords build and come to dominate and transform the melody into what could be a sketch of Miami Beach.

After the Big Rain comes with a heavy back-story. Part three of a trilogy, it's nevertheless the first part to appear on CD and with Coltrane's ownership of "After the Rain and Katrina making flood metaphors vaguely obscene, all that was left for Cohen was this slightly limp title. No matter. The music he makes with Avital, Freedman, keyboardist Jason Lindner and most important, Lionel Loueke, who sings and plays guitar, combines elements of In a Silent Way-era Miles (Cohen playing trumpet effects) and the dreamy atmospherics of the Pat Metheny Group (with Avital's iron fingers steering this group away from sterility). This music subverts your expectations and sneaks up on you, carrying you away on the gentle lines of Cohen's crisp, muted trumpet, Lindner's understated keyboards, Loueke's soothing African vocals and above all, Avital's stalwart bass.

Tracks and Personnel

Sketches of Tel Aviv

Tracks: A Touch of Tahini; Sketch of Tel Aviv; Suite African #2 ; Hareshut; S'ai N'wai; Horizon; Suzanna (aka Rock Ballad); Three Four (Not a Jazz Tune)

Personnel: Omer Avital: bass, oud; Avishai Cohen: trumpet; Yontan Avishai: piano, fender rhodes; Daniel Freedman: drums, percussion; Eviatar Banai: vocals

After the Big Rain

Tracks: After the Big Rain; Parto Forte; Gbede Temin; Meditation on Two Chords; Afterthoughts; Miryama; African Daisy; After the Big Rain—Epilogue

Personnel: Avishai Cohen: trumpet and effects; Lionel Loueke: guitar and vocals; Jason Lindner: keyboards; Omer Avital: bass; Daniel Freedman: drums and percussion; Yosvany Terry: chekere


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