Artist: Avishai Cohen
Catalogue Number: SSC 4603
Release Date: 23rd May 2006
01. Nu Nu
03. One for Mark
04. Ani Maamin
06. Emotional Storm
Avishai Cohen - Acoustic and Electric Bass
Sam Barsh - Piano
Mark Guilliana - Drums, Percussion
Amos Hoffman - Oud
noun ( pl. -os) The Spectacular New Recording From Bassist/Composer Avishai Cohen on Razdaz Recordz.
noun (pl. -os) (in baroque music) an accompanying part that includes a bass line and harmonies, typically played on a keyboard instrument and with other instruments such as cello or bass viol.
Bassist/composer Avishai Cohen, a “jazz visionary of global proportions”-DownBeat, and “one of the 100 Most Influential Bass Players of the 20th Century”-Bass Player Magazine, offers to the world his spectacularly beautiful new recording, Continuo, a project that gloriously combines the influences of classical and Middle Eastern music and jazz. “These elements together produced the combination of sounds I was looking for, and created a nice balance between composed and improvised music,” says Cohen.
“Seamlessly blending Middle Eastern, folk, funk, fusion, and straight-ahead jazz . . . Cohen has fashioned a singular vision, and it’s a joy to experience.” – Jazziz
Continuo (the follow up to the critically acclaimed At Home) displays the magic of a working band, “which in this music is stronger than any concept,” adds Cohen. He continued, “I’m very grateful to have two young masters (pianist Sam Barsh and drummer Mark Guiliana) of their instruments with me to convey that they are, on one hand, young in their ever thirsty minds for more information, and, on the other, old enough in their souls to emotionally express themselves on a very high level through the compositions.” The trio, a crackerjack unit that has been delighting audiences around the world for almost three years, welcomed into the fold a long-time collaborator of Cohen’s, fellow Israeli Amos Hoffman, who contributed his singular oud playing to several tracks. Avishai explains, “a lot of the new material on Continuo has a through-composed, classical music-like nature to it, as well as open sections for solos. In addition to that, there are strong Middle Eastern influences in some parts of the compositions. Contemplating the material for the album, I realized I wanted an additional color added to the trio in order to enhance those influences. There was only one man for the job, Amos Hoffman. “I’m excited and proud to offer you some moments of my life once again, reflected through the music,” says Cohen.
TITLE: SWEEPING AND BEAUTIFUL
THE LISTENER WILL BE INVOLVED IN THE MIX OF JAZZ, ROMANTICISM AND SOUNDS
FROM THE MIDDLE EAST
SYDSVENSKA DAGBLADET JULY 27TH, 2006
Avishai Cohen : Continuo. (Razdaz/CDA) Jazz
Esbjörn Svenssons trio in the Middle East. But in reality it is not possible to mix up the music of Avishai Cohen with the music of somebody else.
Here jazz, the classic romantic piano music from the 19th century and the sound from the Middle East flow together. The synthese is something totally original and in the same time totally natural flowing, as if the way was quite wellknown. ‘Continuo’ just sweeps the listener.
The bass player Cohen (Israel, lives in NY) is also a classical educated piano player and you do not need to know that he is composing at the piano
to feel it. The beautiful melodies and harmonies are are in the major or minor key and are not directly in the same family as some typical jazz scales. In a rythmical sense, the cd feels sensational springy and elastic and there during the solo part comes the jazz.
Avishai Cohen, the piano player Sam Barsh and drummer Mark Guiliana are uniquely cooperating. The bass is often doubling the bass tones of the piano and the trio spreads out small rythmical pattern and marks as confetti, it looks like if it was nearly coincidently.
The trio often spins for a long time on a certain theme, changes, is building up, is making it more intense. Many of the songs är written down and carefully arranged. At the same time the musicians succeed in keeping a strong feeling of spontanity and exiting soli are there one after another.
Guiliana’s eruption in EMOTIONAL STORM- while the other two are driving the melody forwards - is nearly breath taking.
The fourth hero is Amos Hoffman, whose oud you can hear there and where on Continuo. He often shows the scales from countries south of the Meditterranean.
And the similarities with E.S.T? Yes, Avishai Cohens band are creating an open, singing and high-sounding music ressembling to the music of the Swedish trio when it comes to energy and feeling. The scores CALM and ARAVA are good examples. Mr Svensson (leader of E.S.T) himself is not directly unfriendly with the classical piano tradition. But Cohen and co are not processing their sound and are playing with more sparkling and more swift than E.S.T are using on their latest album.
Furthermore the sound quality on Continuo made in Gothenburg is a delicacy. The sound engineer Lars Nilsson has given the album depth, altitude and clarity. On the same time the melodies are allowed to creep close to you.
Original music, varied lyrical and hot, which should put life in many different kinds of music lovers. It cant be better than this.
Alexadender Agrell in Sydsvenska Dagbladet
AVISHAI COHEN DOWNBEAT MAGAZINE
Continuo Review ****4/5 November 2006
This is a superbly controlled record, balancing the booming ego in Avishai Cohen’s bass lines with the diligent niceties of Sam Barsh’s baroque-infused piano and Amos Hoffman’s oud added for dramatic effect on half the tracks. The group is locked in that some may look in vain for seams, but the preplanning and immaculate playing doesn’t choke the sense of risk. This is sustained by rhythmical tension built into the compositions and acute role-play. On ’One for Mark’ Barsh introduces the off beat and has a distinct metronomic function that remains throughout his counterpoint release passages, allowing Hoffman and Cohen to attack their instruments with contrasting aggression.
The dramatic sleeve art depicts Cohen running in a desert landscape. Where from? To where? Clearly, however, he has found a musical heaven. Thus a track called ’Emotional storm’ misfires as such, though it is an intriguing mixture of impeccable equilibrium and a gear-shifting groove. The Oud lines seem to have more connection with West Africa Kora lines than Arabic music.
The exciting ’Smash’ boasts rock bottomed but unpredictable time, with Cohen flashing Jaco Pastorius chops on electric bass, Barsh mirroring acoustic piano with keyboard lines and drummer Mark Guiliana getting a chance to kick up some desert dust. Cohen wanted a programmatic feel redolent of classical music strategies with this album, and he has succeeded without snuffing the spark.
Michael Jackson ’Downbeat Magazine’
Jan-Mikael’s EARS: Review: “Continuo” by Avishai Cohen
A stunning combination of jazz, middle-eastern and world music, tinged with a poignant classicism…
Bassist Avishai Cohen’s latest disc brims with unbridled, if not slavish, devotion to the pursuit of compositional excellence. Much like Bill Bruford and Ralph Towner’s ‘If Summer Had its Ghosts’ from a few years ago, ‘Continuo’ presents compositions that have a melancholy, wistful feel, counterbalanced with lush arrangements that utilize the eclectic instrument’s ranges deftly, creating cinematic beds that allow the melodicism to permeate the listener’s subconscious...
Cohen provides plenty of room for Amos Hoffman to dazzle on the oud (not an instrument usually associated with jazz, but here presented in a context that lends credo to the adage that often the uninvited guest provides the best company…) and also features Sam Barsh to stunning effect on piano...Cohen understands the effect of restraint as a soloist, instead focusing on ensemble harmony, often assuming a subservient role…a worthy trait for a leader... despite his prowess on upright and fretless electric basses...
Drummer Mark Guiliana is sympathetic, practicing the subtle art of time-keeping, only venturing into bombast where absolutely appropriate.
All of this would matter little if the compositions themselves were unremarkable, but it is precisely here that Cohen is most eloquent. He has a penchant for Romanticism, which when combined with his ability to find and emphasize the median between eastern and western harmonies, reveals a truly moving lyricism along with a playful elegance that I found beguiling...
Rating: 10+/10 (the plus is for choosing the oud and, more importantly, giving it room as a solo vehicle...)
Hauntingly beautiful, gregarious and harmonically challenging, Avishai Cohen’s ‘Continuo’ transcends technique and training to produce truly moving music...
By Paul Olson All About Jazz
No bassist on the contemporary jazz scene is more technically able than Avishai Cohen, nor more immediately recognizable on a recording: his muscular, singing tone and richly melodic lines are unique. He’s also got one of the tightest trios on earth, and the countless gigs pianist Sam Barsh and drummer Mark Guiliana have played with Cohen are immediately audible on Continuo.
COHEN BALANCES MUSIC AND NATURE
By Jewish Chronicle.
Avishai Cohen’s latest album, Continuo,signals the Israeli musician,s coming of age.
The bassists seventh jazz album sounds like a musical approximation of his native country: much of it is Americanized, its peaks and valleys are beautiful, and it is impossible to deny the presence of a spirit that runs deeper than the material that meets the eye.
Speaking to The Jewish Standard by phone from Oslos P Hotel during a late-May tour stop, Cohen discussed the connection that binds nature and his music.
“I remember myself when I was a kid laying in the grass, looking at the sky, and watching the trees move, and having strong feelings of spiritual connection to the moment, and feeling an uplifting feeling of just being a part of the senses, of the vibration of my surroundings,” said Cohen, whose trio (including Americans Mark Guiliana and Sam Barsh) will play as part of New York City - JVC Jazz Festival.
“I still have that feeling today, especially through music the magic of something that just surrounds you and uplifts you,” said Cohen. “Through music and nature, which are one, I have found a channel to express that feeling.”
One of Israels most accomplished musicians, Cohen isnt a halachically observant Jew, but he is deeply religious and contemplative. His heritage, he says, is in Israel. “Leave Jerusalem, take a right at the gas station, another right at Shoresh after Sha’ar Guy,” and stop at Shoresh, a small village where Cohen grew up and to which he returned in 2004 after living in New York for 12 years.
But his real roots lie in Sephardic Jewish history and in his mother’s Turkish, Greek, and Ladino heritage. His background and Israeli childhood helped him forge an immutable connection between his history, spirituality, and melody.
“Music is my religion,” said Cohen, who plans on recording a Ladino-language project with his mother after the “Continuo” tour ends. “It brings such high moments to me that don’t have to do with any particular string of belief. But don’t get me wrong Ń learning about my heritage and religion is always a gift, and always is pure profit.”
One can literally hear Cohen’s past on “Continuo,” which is available for pre-order on avishaimusic.com. For the first time since the mid-90’s, Cohen will feature the oud, a traditional Arabic instrument rarely included in Western music, on his recording. Its dark, Mediterranean sound is reminiscent of most anything but jazz. The album’s 10 deeply emotional songs are unique both on the Tower Records jazz rack and in Cohen’s own catalogue.
“My interest in Middle Eastern and Arabic music started in New York,” said Cohen, “and I thought the oud would be an amazing addition to this album. It’s helped carve some of my signature sound, and I featured it really prominently on ’Continuo.’”
Cohen’s music, though, is not strictly jazz, nor is it solely Middle Eastern. His compositions dance across the jazz, classical, and funk landscapes, and his band is practically the poster-child for diversity in music. Drummer Guiliana’s side-project, called “HEERNT” (heernt.com), just issued “Locked in a Basement,” a genre non-specific collection that experiments in tone, instrumentation, and electronic music.
But Cohen’s band is about more than a multi-genre label: Cohen, the bandleader, is 36, while Guiliana and Barsh are 25. Cohen is Israeli, and his band-mates are not. But the former member of the Chick Corea New Trio said that his band’s differences are essential to their music’s continuity.
“I like that my being Israeli brings enough of that Israeli flavor that using musicians from elsewhere makes much more sense with the multicolored thing,” said Cohen. “Being Israeli is so much in my writing anyway, I know that having musicians from elsewhere really balances out the writing.”
Cohen said that that balance is on display at his live performances.
“I stand in the middle with the drums on my left and the piano on my right, and I make sure things are cool,” he said. “I’m kind of driving the car, but I’m not necessarily its engine. It,s pretty amazing to see how [Guiliana and Barsh] have grown in the not-even-three years we’ve been a trio. I trusted them, and the trust I gave them and still do let them bloom, and they developed into monsters.”
While Cohen loves gigging across the globe, he said that, for inspiration and comfort, there is no place like home.
Volume 28/Number 15 (a)
June 7, 2006
MIDWEST RECORD RECAP
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
(c) 2006 Midwest Record Recap
AVISHAI COHEN/Continuo: Cohen has gone so far beyond the borders of anything that you just might as well call what the stellar bass player plays “music”. Running the genre blender on puree without making a mess, this world/jazz/fusion is so involving and so over the top in it’s range that you can’t help but be blown away from start to finish. Just plain hot, passionate jazz that has the vibe the fueled the classic blowing and cutting dates but exists in a nexus all it’s own. High
octane, high energy and high style throughout adding up into one killer tour de force that you wonder how he can possibly top the next time around.
September 2006 issue Jazz Times
When Avishai Cohen (bass), Mark Guiliana (drums) and Amos Hoffman (oud) answer pianist Sam Barsh’s flowing piano lick with a resounding crash in “Nu Nu,” the whole group exerts its collective authority: This is a unit with rock-solid cohesion that knows how to kick off an album.
- Mike Shanley
Avishai Cohen - Philly Enquirer
Born and raised in Israel, it’s no surprise that bass great Avishai Cohen often infuses his music with Middle Eastern harmonies and rhythms. This becomes particularly clear on Continuo when Cohen augments his working trio of pianist Sam Barsh and drummer Mark Guiliana with oud player Amos Hoffman. There are also strong overtones of classical music that come out in the highly complex and overtly through-composed tunes written by the leader. Sometimes the formal tone might be a bit much for those who just want to swing, but the playing is always visceral and often restlessly mercurial. Highlights include the angular bass-driven “Smash,” the dramatic “Nu Nu” and the spiraling “Ani Maamin.”
– Tad Hendrickson
AVISHAI COHEN “Continuo“ (RazDaz, 4 stars)
A lot of cool desert air comes from this set by Israeli bassist and composer Avishai Cohen. The former sideman of pianists Danilo Perez and Chick Corea, fashions a mostly quartet set that blends Middle Eastern, classical and jazz influences in one potent stream.
The set is notable for the high visibility of Amos Hoffman’s oud, the fretless, stringed instrument of Arab origin. Hoffman’s oud gives this session a haunting set of tones that presents new perspectives.
Cohen, of course, is a Jaco Pastorius devotee, and he honors the master’s aura without stealing it blind. His 10 originals meld drive and verve. The title track begins with Cohen’s six-string Marco bass sounding as lithe as a guitar before the world beat of drummer Mark Giuliani makes for a camel-choppy ride. Pianist Sam Bash is alert to the rhythms and the onrush of influences that prevail here, from classical figures to hints of Weather Report.
Another staple is the frequency of vamps. Cohen used these repeating chords to create a sense of mystery.
- Karl Stark
Avishai Cohen, Continuo
Friday July 7, 2006
When Israeli bassist and Chick Corea sideman Cohen released his third album, Colors, in 2000, he sounded like a rising 21st-century jazz star.
The set has some parallels with the Esbjorn Svensson Trio in its use of catchy repeating hooks as anchors to the improvising. There are some memorable themes, and much fine spontaneous playing from Cohen and his partners, Sam Barsh (piano) and Mark Guiliana (drums), with Amos Hoffman’s oud on half the tracks. Middle-eastern melodies, Keith Jarrettish reflective piano interludes, waltzes that would engage Brad Mehldau fans, hot Iberian dances - it all adds up to Cohen listening to himself.