Here’s the latest from Avishai Cohen, bassist, this one a trio album, the format he falls back to after indulging his more experimental tendencies. That’s not to say that the trio albums are ‘safe’ just that the music here adheres to the format, it sounds like what you might expect from a trio – but it’s always a trio pushing forward; this bursts with ideas and Cohen’s bass drives along hard with Daniel Dor’s drums, it rubs up against Nitai Hershkovits’ piano lines, it leads at times, then falls back to just the bottom-end role.
From the strident drum-surge filled opening (Beyond), through the playful Latin-jazz piano lines that inform (Abie) and the thoughtful ballad Haleyah (where Cohen’s bass is essentially the backing vocalist behind Hershkovits’ piano’s lead voice) there is a great range here, compositional dexterity that allows for some slick, subtle, supple performances.
In an extended bass run on Ballad For An Unknown, Cohen’s warm, woody tone pushes past the soft rustle of Dor’s brushwork, Herhkovits acts as a support network, the guide that will lend a (gentle) hand only when needed. Elsewhere (the title track) Cohen’s voice is the lead instrument, blending with the drums and piano as the music blurs into an arrowhead-focus, three becoming one, the musicians disappearing deep inside the tune as it all hurtles forward.
In a relatively concise showcase (11 songs, 42 minutes) there’s a quite dazzling range of ideas here, enormous breadth in fact, with Cohen’s compositional chops well honed and whether it’s the driving ensemble pieces (Lost Tribe) or the more tender pieces (Almah Sleeping) there’s something here for small combo jazz fans of all types; a great variety that comfortably sits well together. It all hangs nicely, all makes sense. Cohen’s a beast of a player and this trio is dazzling, exciting, hugely dynamic – but none of this feels like showboating and most of it feels like his/their finest work to date.