Two Roses by Avishai Cohen

Two Roses

Avishai Cohen

Release date: 16/04/2021

Catalogue Number: M7370

Many musicians dream of making a record with a symphony orchestra, but few can afford to make it a reality. Thanks to an extraordinary ability to compose melodies that take root in his listeners’ minds and because he has patiently performed these compositions on stage to the point where they are practically a part of him, Avishai Cohen was well-positioned to execute such an ambition. Two Roses is the result of a long process, which began in 2013 when Cohen recorded his album Almah, with his trio and a small chamber ensemble of four string instruments and an oboe.

Cohen’s music is an intricate tapestry of global and historical influence. A master of Afro-Caribbean music, Cohen has absorbed its complexity. Equally affected by the melodies of Israeli folklore, and the complexity of their Sephardi, Ashkenazi or Yemeni heritages, he reintroduced the traditional Ladino “Morenika,” as well as popular tunes from his native country, such as “Two Roses”, which lends its title to this album. The title itself works as a metaphor for the album’s adept fusion of jazz, and the symphonic world. Cohen, a fan of jazz standards, which he likes to make his own through very personal arrangements — in this recording, with a version of “Nature Boy” — nevertheless remains a composer of themes in his own right. Many of his own “classics” take their cues from North Africa, the Middle East, Slavic countries and Russia.

“Recording with an orchestra is an adventure in itself. It’s nothing like making a jazz record,” An orchestra has its own rhythm, you have to understand how they breathe, says Cohen.

And now he has finally found an ensemble capable of providing this experience: the 92 talented women and men of the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra conducted by Alexander Hanson. Cohen did not embark on this adventure alone: his trio includes two musicians for whom he is full of praise. Azerbaijani pianist Elchin Shirinov, who appeared on Cohen’s previous record, and New Jersey native drummer Mark Guiliana, with whom Cohen revolutionized the trio’s approach.

“I’ve basically devoted myself to the same songs my whole life,” admits Cohen, “which hasn’t prevented me from writing and learning new ones…” He explains that his arrangement in E major of “A Child Is Born,” by Thad Jones, now transposed to the symphonic scale, dates back to the time of his own International Vamp Band, in which he played primarily the piano. Two Roses, however, includes originals such as “When I’m Falling,” which testifies to the autobiographical dimension that his work has taken. “Hearing songs like ‘Morenika’ or ‘Puncha Puncha’ is like switching eras, finding yourself in a time when nothing is the same,” notes Cohen. The unfolding of Two Roses, in several respects, resembles the soundtrack of an epic film, at times tinged with nostalgia, carried elsewhere by a hectic and vibrant energy. On Two Roses, the only things that count are performance, emotion and the personal expression of a citizen of the world who sees music as his only true homeland.


Avishai Cohen – Producer
Lars Nilsson – Producer
Lenny Ben Basat – Producer