Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Avishai Cohen - As Is: Live at the Blue Note (Razdaz/Half Note, 2007)

This is the "other" 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.

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