As Is... (CD/DVD)
Artist: Avishai Cohen
Catalogue Number: HN 4531
Release Date: 27th April 2007
04. Bass Suite
Avishai Cohen - Acoustic and Electric Bass
Sam Barsh - Keyboards, Melodica
Mark Guilliana - Drums
Diego Urcola - Trumpet
Jimmy Greene - Saxophones
The magic and strength of a working band, “which in this music is stronger than any concept,” says Cohen, and is one of the key ingredients on this live CD/DVD. The trio of Avishai, Sam and Mark, a crackerjack unit that has been delighting audiences around the world for more than three years, has grown into one of the most enjoyable and fascinating trios one can experience on the scene today. Their respect for each other, their empathetic interaction, and the pure joy and enthusiasm they share in performing music with each other, is part of what makes Cohen’s music connect with listeners on many levels. As Is . . . Live At The Blue Note is the definitive documentation of this trio as Avishai takes the band in an exciting new direction with the arrival of the young Israeli piano virtuoso Shai Maestro, poised to take over where the brilliant Sam Barsh left off.
As Is . . . Live At The Blue Note also offers an overview of Avishai’s career with highlights from his spectacular recordings: “Smash,” “Elli,” “Samuel,” “One For Mark” and “Nu Nu” are from Continuo (RazDaz, 2006), “Remembering” and “Feediop” were featured on At Home (RazDaz, 2005), “Etude” stems from the brilliantly conceived recording “Unity” (Avishai Cohen & The International Vamp Band, Stretch, 2001), and “Bass Suite #1” is a stand out track from Avishai’s debut release, Adama (Stretch, 1998).
Much more than a bandleader, composer and inspiring instrumentalist, Avishai Cohen has become an artist with clear, distinctive band concept and musical vision. In this regard he is following in the footsteps of artists such as Mingus, Dave Holland, Jaco Pastorius, Ray Brown, Charlie Haden, Stanley Clarke and even Sting.
A completely subjective blog of music reviews covering mostly jazz and blues but branching out into other genres as well.
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
Avishai Cohen - As Is: Live at the Blue Note (Razdaz/Half Note, 2007)
Avishai Cohen, a bassist who first came to notoriety performing with Chick Corea and then gained acclaim as a bandleader and composer. His group recently received some rave reviews as they closed the Rochester Jazz Festival. He is joined on this recording by Sam Barsh on keyboards and melodica, Jimmy Greene on saxophone, Diego Urcola on trumpet and Mark Guiliana on drums. The music is split nearly equally between funky electric jazz workouts and more reflective acoustic meditations. The opening “Smash” has a wonderful throbbing bassline and pastel colors from from the electric piano along with an excellent saxophone solo. On the acoustic side, “Elli” and “Remembering” are more reflective ballads featuring acoustic piano and bass playing. “Etude” is another acoustic tune, but with the tempo ramped up with solid solos from saxophone and trumpet. The only non original ends the set, Duke Ellington and Juan Tizol’s “Caravan” starts very promisingly, with the band settling into the middle eastern melody, but the performance drags on a little too long at fourteen plus minutes and loses some of its early energy. This is a good document of a modern working jazz band in a live setting. The musicians play at a high level and show a number of influences and ideas. There is also a DVD included in this package which I will report back on later.
JAZZ TIMES CD Reviews
As Is Live at the Blue Note (Razdaz - Half Note)
Bassist Avishai Cohen is blossoming into one of the more interesting musicians of his generation. His jazz is modern and inquisitive, searching for new means of self-expression while remaining mindful of the postbop tradition. He fuses ideas from Latin, Middle Eastern, classical and pop music into his compositions and improvisations. His tunes, especially his melodies, are highly structured, yet he and his sidemen shape things on the spot.
As Is is Cohen’s first live record, and it’s a beauty. The core of the group is a phenomenally talented trio that includes pianist Sam Barsh and drummer Mark Guilliana. Plus, we hear quite a bit from two terrific horn players, saxophonist Jimmy Greene and trumpeter Diego Urcola. They start the set with “Smash,” as an ethereal electric keyboard leads to a Latin-tinged piano, soon joined by a driving rock beat. Cohen is a former sideman of Chick Corea, and the old boss’ influence is clearly heard in this tune, which finds Cohen getting funky on the electric bass. “Elli,” an acoustic ballad featuring only the trio, picks up energy as the musicians gently pluck, peck and tap their way through the piece.
Guilliana really swings into action with “Etude.” The pianist’s rollicking solo manages to grow both contrapuntal and counter-rhythmic, Urcola turns out some pulverizing work of his own, and Greene fires things up with a solo in which he plays against key, while Guilliana is comping against key! The rhythm section goes it alone with a sweet take of “Remembering,” a pretty little ballad that evokes Debussy, before the band wraps it up with an extremely funked-up version of “Caravan” that has the musicians overlapping time signatures. Oh, to have been at the Blue Note to hear this music live. - Steve Greenlee
’As is ... Live at the Blue Note’ Sunday, June 3, 2007
’AS IS ... LIVE AT THE BLUE NOTE’ Avishai Cohen (RazDaz)
Bassist Avishai Cohen makes the creation of good jazz look much easier than nearly anyone does. ’As Is ... Live at the Blue Note’ shows that in a CD-and-DVD set made up of pieces from the same gig at the New York City club. The show provides a broad look at Cohen and his touring quintet. On the two discs, there are nine originals by the bassist, and each disc has a long version of the Duke Ellington classic “Caravan.” The tunes sometimes hint of classics in another fashion. “Elli,” for instance, features Cohen and keyboardist Sam Barsh playing statements that could come from a more formal setting. “Etude,” with a melody statement from trumpeter Diego Urcola and saxophonist Jimmy Greene, hints the same before it takes off into greater freedom. Whatever the direction. the music is splendid. from the somber “Remembering” to “Bass Suite #1,” which shows off Cohen’s talent, as though it were ever hidden. The DVD is equally good, with fine camera work and sound. The collection is great evidence to Cohen’s growing spot in jazz.
JAZZ WEEKLY USA.
As Is…Live At The Blue Note
CD and DVD
This is a musician I’ve never seen perform in concert, but after listening to this disc, that is going to have to change. Bassist Avishai Cohen’s band features music with complex but accessible melodies, intriguing changes in tempo and mood, along with some spectacular soloing by the likes of Jimmy Greene (sax) and Diego Urcola (Trumpet). Except for the Middle Eastern contexted “Caravan”, all of the songs are composed by Cohen, and feature a fascinating mix of Blues and Bedouin. “Smash” features some exotic and wild soloing on Greene’s soprano, but Sam Barsh’s keyboards and Cohen’s electric bass steer it around like a Yemenite festival. The hard driving and hypnotic “Etude” has the front line of Greene and Urcola stampeding through an intoxicating Sephardic rhythm that explodes in ecstasy towards the end, almost in relief. Cohen’s bass work, be it electric or acoustic, as on the (literally) blistering “Feediop” is astonishing in technique, yet with a warm glow, like the sun bouncing off the sand in the Negev desert. This is music that is sophisticated, inspiring and a great direction for jazz, even if it is read from right to left!
George W. Harris
Midwest Record April 2007
AVISHAI COHEN/As Is...Live at the Blue Note: One of the things you just can’t argue with is that Cohen is a cat at the top of his game. This cd/dvd combo pack finds the bass ace leading a crew through their paces and delivering a solid time. A jazzbo to the core that knows how to improvise,
compose and hit it out of the park, Cohen live is a no holds barred look at how he can react to his surroundings with no place to hide. Contemporary jazzbos will delight in this outing that has everything they are looking for.
4531 (Half Note)