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Avishai Cohen Trio: From Darkness

Like Duende that came a few years before it, nothing illustrates the mastery of bassist Avishai Cohen better than From Darkness…

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Avishai Cohen

Like Duende that came a few years before it, nothing illustrates the mastery of bassist Avishai Cohen better than From Darkness, the ascendency of Mr. Cohen. The wonderful paradox that is Mr. Cohen is illustrated by a considered glance at the following example: When poet TS Eliot wrote for elites, and revered tradition, it qualified as a founding father of literary modernism. Likewise Avishai Cohen, a musician, who breathes deep in the air of a tradition that includes Oscar Pettiford and Ray Brown illuminating a poignant longing for the past, worshipping, at the same time, at the altar of modernity by paying homage, albeit askance, to the music of Jaco Pastorius. This example of discreet unification is the extraordinary motivic concentration of the 2015 recording. This Razdaz Recordz CD is nothing short of sumptuous, one in which the ubiquitous trio is in full flight throughout. And we are the fortunate beneficiaries of this exceptional playing. As usual, Avishai Cohen leads this chamber ensemble in the absolute miniature with pomp and circumstance. He casts notes, phrases and lines with imposing spirit, exemplifying an unbridled genius that can only exist in a rarefied realm. I am not surprised at this, at all. It is the only way Mr. Cohen can exist.

The richly resonating magnificence of his pizzicato and arco playing is redolent in the art of classic playing of the bass violin. It creates an uncommon brotherhood with the momentum and ingenuity of Nitai Hershkovits and the rolling thunder of Daniel Dor’s drums. The dramatic tension contained with the trio is such that the group often bursts into visceral excitement right from “Beyond” onward. The three way counterpoint between the kindred spirits is rather piquant indeed and soars over the composer’s evocative and deep, soulful music. The men convey the full sensuous passion that is contained with the compositions and the beautiful profundity of the music. Its glorious character speaks depth of emotional feeling and while bringing to prominence the music’s great eloquence and tenderness. Through it all Avishai Cohen’s lyrical performance is matched by the singing of the piano and the melodic melismas of the drums—yes, the drums! Such intuitive, intelligent and passionate playing of the brilliantly composed music makes joins for a coruscating, almost inebriated trio. The beautiful autumnal dawns and utterly fascinating and emotional crepuscules of duck are irresistible to the ear especially in “C#-” and continue on through “Ballad for an Unborn”, “Almah Sleeping” and the soaring beauty of “Amethyst”.

“Halelyah” and “Smile” have compelling feelings of tender repose; “Smile”, with its minute diminuendos and crescendos, delights beyond compare as it joins hands lovingly by the almost palpable and visual linking of hands with its composer and his film Modern Times, from which the song is taken. There are many moments indeed when the music sweeps across this disc with unrivalled majesty; not a moment when it sounds weary. It is ecstatic indeed, recalling the continuing reflection that through Avishai Cohen’s musicianship his very soul, unhampered by feelings of constraint wishes to soar in free flight. “From Darkness”—both song and album is the perfect and glowing agogic bass-playing of moving and serene radiance, “sung” here by the eloquent and magnificent bassist, pianist and drummer. All of this beauty serves to reinforce the belief that there are few finer examples of recorded performance. The disc is well worth having for that alone.

Track List: Beyond; Abie; Halelyah; C#-; Ballad for an Unborn; From Darkness; Lost Tribe; Almah Sleeping; Signature; Amethyst; Smile.

Personnel: Avishai Cohen: bass; Nitai Hershkovits: piano; Daniel Dor: drums.

Label: Razdaz Recordz
Release date: February 2015
Website: avishaicohen.com
Buy music on: amazon

About Avishai Cohen

Avishai Cohen, born in Kabri, Israel on April 20th, 1970, grew up in a multicultural family whose roots were found in Spain, Greece and Poland. At home, music was always in the air, with his mother Ora, an artistic influence, listening to both classical and traditional music. Avishai’s musical journey began when he was nine years old, when he began playing the piano. After moving to St. Louis, Missouri with his family aged fourteen, he continued to study the piano and began to play the bass guitar. The electric bass put a spell on him when his teacher introduced him to the music of luminary bassist Jaco Pastorius. Back in Israel, Avishai joined the Music and Arts Academy in Jerusalem to further explore the bass universe. At the age of 22, having served for two years in an army band, he decided to take a big step and moved to New York city. Read more…

Based in Milton, Ontario, Canada, Raul is a poet, musician and an accomplished critic whose profound analysis is reinforced by his deep understanding of music, technically as well as historically.

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Featured Albums

Adrien Brandeis: Siempre Más Allá

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Roberto Jr. Vizcaino, Adrien Brandeis, Roberto Vizcaino Guillot - Photo Nayeli Mejia
Roberto Vizcaíno Jr., Adrien Brandeis, Roberto Vizcaíno Guillot - Photo: Nayeli Mejia.

Listening to the music of Siempre Más Allá, it certainly seems that the young French pianist, Adrien Brandeis has strengthened the belief that he is a proverbial citizen of the Afro-Caribbean universe. To be clear Mr Brandeis still loves all music and swings as hard as any pianist who loves Black American Music – that is, music that you can sing and dance to. But also continues to be beguiled by the rolling thunder of Afro-Caribbean music. The wild call of the rhythms and the joie de vivre of the questing melodies and harmonies not only appeal to his ear, but also speak to him in the hidden parts of his heart.

By his own admission Siempre Más Allá took root during three tours to Mexico undertaken under the aegis of the Fédération des Alliances Françaises du Mexique. The virtually all-Afro-Cuban repertoire of the album radiates charm at every turn. These disarmingly natural and eloquent performances bring out the music’s inherent drama and penchant for tumbao with a deft touch while indulging Brandeis’ lyrical instincts to the full. Meticulously balanced, the four quartet pieces, the trio and duo pieces feel as if they are chamber works. Brandeis’ astonishingly insightful playing is musically captivating and technically blemishless. Each phrase rings so completely true that one can’t imagine the music played any other way.

Adrien Brandeis: Siempre Más Allá
Adrien Brandeis: Siempre Más Allá

The album features Mr Brandeis and a group of very accomplished musicians. These include the celebrated Cuban percussionist Roberto Vizcaíno Guillot [on two tracks] and his son Roberto Vizcaíno Jr., Mexican drummer José Loria Triay make up the wall of percussion. The Brasilian bassist Giliard Lopes brings his distinctive veritas to the whole rhythm section. The big surprise here is, perhaps, the presence of the great Cuban Horacio “El Negro” Hernández sitting in the drum chair on La buena vibra.

Siempre Más Allá is an affirmation of Brandeis’ enduring love and natural affinity for Latin music. Not surprisingly the music seems to echo the famous Latin American phrase: “¡Que rico bailo yo!” [which, in English, exclaims: “How well I dance!”]. This is no hyperbole as the music – in its pulses and rhythms show as Brandeis traverses the rhythmic topography of the Caribbean and Latin America. Along the way Brandeis plunged into the world of changüí, the chacarera, Brasilian gaucho music and the ancient melodic thunder of bàtá drums.

From the get-go listeners will find themselves immersed in quite another world of rippling percussive grooves. The track Ek Bakam, for instance, conjures the intricate architecture; the line and flow of an epic Mayan civilisation located in the Yucatan. Narratives from the Latin world abound – often paying homage to famous traditional musicians. Pancho’s Power is one such chart inspired by the vivid world of the legendary trio Los Panchos. Brandeis gives his percussion section a lot of space when he puts the spotlight on them on Tierra de Oportunidades – a wistful memory of the pianist’s three tours to Mexico, which is also incidentally the popular provincial slogan of the Mexican state of Guanajuato. On Huachi-Huachi Brandeis digs deep into the epicurean delights of the only Latin country in North America with this song in praise of a kind of gourmet Mexican fish: the huachinango.

Brandeis then celebrates his association with percussion colourist Roberto Vizcaíno Jr. with the extraordinary music of Vizcaíno Blues, a piece unique with its exploratory chromaticisms and elegant sonorities that beautifully capture the eloquence of the percussionist in whose praise the music is written. Mindful of the fact that Vizcaíno is Cuban but makes his home in Mexico, Brandeis shapes the rhythmic and harmonic palette of the piece accordingly. On La Buena Vibra Brandeis delivers astonishing pianistic fireworks in the piece’s melodic and harmonic lines, played at a frenetic pace, to mirror the style of its dedicatee, Michel Camilo. The pianist demonstrates an authentic home-grown grasp of Cuban music as he reimages Voy a Apagar la Luz, by the legendary and late-singer Armando Manzanero, here adapted as a wistful solo piano work. Meanwhile on the dizzying ride of Humpty Dumpty the pianist pays homage to another idol: Chick Corea, by revisiting the sparkling composition of the recently-deceased piano maestro.

It is hard not to be mesmerised by this spirited and finely nuanced music artfully crafted in an album by Adrien Brandeis, a pianist who is about to take the world by storm with a recording that is going to be one of the finest by any musician located outside the Latin American sub-continent.

Deo gratis…

Tracks – 1: Huachi Huachi; 2: Alegría; 3: Pancho’s Power; 4: Ek balam; 5: Un peu d’espoir; 6: Vizcaíno’s Blues; 7: Tierra de oportunidades; 8: Humpty Dumpty; 9: La buena vibra; 10: Voy a apagar la luz

Musicians – Adrien Brandeis: piano; Giliard Lopes: contrabass; José Loria Triay: drums; Roberto Vizcaíno Jr: congas and bàtá drums. Featuring Roberto Vizcaíno Guillot: percussion [1, 6]; Horacio “El Negro” Hernández: drums [9]

Released – 2022
Label – Mantodea Music Productions
Runtime – 58:25

YouTube Video – Adrien Brandeis – Siempre más allá (EPK)

YouTube Audio – Adrien Brandeis – Vizcaíno’s Blues

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