Avishai Cohen, born in Kabri, Israel on April 20th, 1970, has over the course of his career helped bring the bass into the spotlight and has pushed the boundaries of jazz. His work has earned him international awards and global recognition. He has developed a strong network of followers and listeners, striking a chord with the audience wherever he has performed. Meanwhile, his unique compositions have been used in many films, TV and other media. The stage is undoubtedly a place where Avishai feels at home, so much so that attending one of his live performances is probably the best way to get acquainted with his musical universe. DownBeat magazine called Avishai “a jazz visionary of global proportions” while Bass Player magazine declared him one of the 100 most influential bass players of the twentieth century.
Avishai grew up in a multicultural family whose roots are found in Spain, Greece and Poland. At home, music was always in the air, with his mother Ora listening to both classical and traditional music. Avishai’s musical journey started when he began playing the piano at nine years old. After moving to St. Louis, Missouri with his family aged fourteen, he continued to study the piano and discovered the bass guitar. The electric bass put a spell on him when his teacher introduced him to the music of luminary bassist Jaco Pastorius and Chick Corea’s Return to Forever. Back in Israel, Avishai joined the Music and Arts Academy in Jerusalem and turned to the upright bass. At the age of 22, having served for two years in an army band, he decided to take a big step and moved to New York City.
Avishai arrived in a wintry New York, in January 1992. Moving to the Big Apple was a challenging decision, emotionally as well as professionally. The young Israeli had a tough beginning; performing on the streets and working in construction to get by. These small steps gave his music a unique sense of authenticity. He enrolled at the New School in New York City and was a contemporary there of such artists as Brad Mehldau and Peter Bernstein. Avishai was soon to be performing and recording with Panamanian pianist Danilo Perez’s Trio, reflecting the essential role that Latin music played in Avishai’s early years in New York.
In 1997 a call from Chick Corea changed everything. Avishai had prepared for this moment. He had passed one of Corea’s friends a demo tape. Chick listened to it in his car and called Avishai back a few weeks later, blown away by its freshness. As a co-founder of Corea’s Origina ensemble and a member of Corea’s New Trio, for over six years Avishai became an integral part of Chick’s music and received the opportunity to fine-tune his skills as bassist, composer and bandleader. Performing and touring with the master pianist played an important part in shaping Avishai’s musicianship. Avishai considers Chick a teacher, colleague and dear friend.