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From the brooding opening title track to the closing Chet Baker homage, "I Fall in Love Too Easily," Dark Nights unapologetically embraces the heart of jazz. Every aspect of the albumfrom the cover photo, to Cohen's precise trumpet inflections, to the trio's dedication to immediacy and collective improvisation (and even the album's forays into electronic affects)is saturated with the emblematic textures, rhythms, and imagery of jazz. This is achieved with professionalism, creativity, and skill, without a wit of irony or cliché, while avoiding both navel-gazing insularity and crowd-pleasing revivalism.
Instead, the album's ten tracks wander the shadowed corridors and oblique alleys of jazz's murkier contours. Its slower tempos are those of hot city nights spent in closed spaces, its architecture comprised of lonely moments, illicit encounters at hallucinatory cafés that time never knew, poetic reveries, and candid snapshots of submerged emotion. The gorgeously executed "I Fall in Love to Easily" acts like a coda, a sonic decoder elucidating the album's overall allegiance to Baker's brand of painful tenderness, just as the opener's subtle use of electronic affects declares the subsequent music fully the product of modern sensibilities. This candid, evocative balance neither defies nor denies the age of genre blending, rather it reminds us that the inner pilgrimages of jazz still possess a unique relevance; a contrary pace of dissonance rejecting easy freneticism in favor of the concentrated tension that can unfold in a single, prolonged trumpet note.
In short, Dark Nights presents pure, uncut, honest jazz injected straight into the unconscious, all held together by something raw and seethingly finite that binds Cohen's music to a humanism rarely so ardently exposed.
Track Listing: Dark Nights, Darker Days; You in All Directions; Betray; Pablo; Goodbye Pork Pie Hat; The OC;
Shiny Stockings; Lush Life; Old Soul; I Fall in Love Too Easily.
Jazz is a continuing revelation. The best show I ever attended was the
Roots Picnic at Penn's Landing in Philadelphia, or was it Robert
Glasper's Experiment at Lincoln Center, or was it Chick Corea with
Brian Blade at Oberlin College? Most of all I enjoy playing guitar and
composing beats with my Brooklyn-based group Space Captain.