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Album Review

Avishai Cohen: Shifting Sands

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Avishai Cohen: Shifting Sands
Consistency and excellence are two of the most fundamental requisites for achieving an optimal career in music. The Israeli bassist and composer Avishai Cohen has maintained those standards for many years, and his new trio emerges with a powerful offering that should reinforce his status as a jazz-based titan. This formation enlists familiar, longtime collaborator Elchin Shirinov on piano with a relative newcomer and recent Berklee graduate, 21-year old drummer Roni Kaspi. The results of their initial collaboration are stirring from start to finish.

This is one of Cohen's more percussive sounding projects. The album varies significantly from the symphonic Two Roses (Razdaz, 2021), and reflectively subtle Arvoles (Razdaz, 2019). While Cohen's dexterity is, as usual, in strong evidence his band mates remain prominent throughout, so much so that if Cohen was not listed as the sole songwriter it could be assumed every part was a group effort. "This new album is the highest level I've reached so far, of me being the composer and the idea-maker, but (also) having them both state the mood and the vibe," said Cohen. "Kaspi and Shirinov both grew up listening to my music and consider me an influence, which is incredible to me. Because they challenge me too."

Cohen's confidence in his team and his material is apparent from how often he remains in the background. On the opening "Intertwined," Shirinov sets the tone and gets the first solo while Kaspi snaps across the rims and cymbal heads in lead-type notation. Cohen does not come to the fore until two songs later, on the relaxed "Dvash," the first of three solo-type interludes, then demonstrates his proficiency on the bow during "Chacha Rom." "Hitragut" is a sweet summer song that lands like a Central Park serenade. Many pieces follow a basic structure that begins with one or two sharply repeated patterns, rolls into transitional overlaps, then returns along the opening framework in a formula that fits the album's title theme perfectly.

One of the most impressive things about this this exceptional record is how much masterful mileage each member gets from a relatively small number of notes or beats. Top rank creativity, aptitude, and technique are some other things that make for musical success. There is an abundance of all that and more to be found in this new trio.

Track Listing

Intertwined; Window; Dvash; Joy; Below; Shifting Sands; Chacha Rom; Hitragut; Videogame; Kinderblock

Personnel

Avishai Cohen: bass; Elchin Shirinov: piano; Roni Kaspi: drums.

Album information

Title: Shifting Sands | Year Released: 2022 | Record Label: naive/believe

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