One has a number of meanings for the Israeli collective 3 Cohens. One family, in that trumpeter Avishai Cohen (not the bassist Avishai Cohen who has worked, amongst others, with Chick Corea), tenor saxophonist/clarinetist Anat Cohen, and soprano saxophonist Yuval Cohen are all siblings. One session, in that the record was recorded and mixed in a single day in August of 2003. And one music, in that the group, which also features Israeli musicians Amos Hoffman on guitar and oud, Gilad Abro on acoustic bass, and Shay Zelman on drums, shares a common heritage and a common interest in music that transcends boundaries.
Avishai, Anat, and Yuval Cohen also share a similar musical background, having attended the Berklee School of Music in Bostonand while Yuval returned to Israel, Avishai and Anat have remained in New York, where they remain active participants of that city's music scene. Anat, aside from her own work, has played with artists including percussionist Cyro Baptista and singer Kerry Lindner; Avishai has appeared on a number of recordings, including Pharoah's Daughter's Out of the Reeds (Tzadik, 2000); Yuval's involvement on the Israeli scene is less visible, but no less profound. All have common bonds to music from the Middle East, yet all three have equal footing in the jazz tradition, the result of studies with George Garzone, Joe Viola, and the late John LaPorta.
But what gives 3 Cohens a certain edge is the simpatico they share, extending beyond merely being siblings; it involves all three sharing the common bond of music from an early age, and the kind of comfort level and intuition that can only come from playing together for many years. The result, whether it's on the lightly ambling "Shablul," the pastoral tinge of "For My Brother and Sister," the more incessantly swinging "In Amirim," which still manages to hint at a Middle Eastern harmonic sensibility, or the tender ballad "Morning Dream," is a front line that finds pleasure in the subtlest of nuance, the slightest turn of phrase.
While there are hints of their ethnic heritage, make no mistakethis music is clearly rooted in contemporary post bop. "Autumn & Wine" is an elegant jazz waltz, while "Shicolico" begins as a slightly-skewed bossa but then curiously transforms into a funkier vibe at the halfway point.
Throughout, a joyfulness pervades these performances. And while each of the Cohens is a capable soloist, the real magic happens when they're all in the pool at once. One can only imagine that the kind of interplay they exhibit on record would be amplified in an extended live context.
With a lyrical sense that is evident at every twist and turn, and an evidently harmonious relationshipboth personally and musicallyOne is a fine debut from a group that, with its first record, already exhibits the kind of "in the zone" telepathy that most take years to develop.