Avishai Cohen

Released January 29, 2016

Grand Prix de l’Académie du Jazz 2016

YouTube: https://music.youtube.com/watch?v=O2esfqfSHDo&list=OLAK5uy_m-yQzM4RJgnDwupZ_pSsuncXFzgD6DPB0

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/album/71IfxXKpjfjsYRIGaYfdeD?si=2s8ybionQTSpMAlgz4h21Q


Hearing Avishai Cohen play on the recording session for Mark Turner’s recent Lathe of Heaven album, producer Manfred Eicher was struck by the trumpeter’s contribution at once. “I immediately liked Avishai’s tone, his phrasing, his energy and purity of sound,” he said. Now comes Cohen’s ECM leader debut with Into the Silence, an album dedicated to the memory of his late father. The trumpeter composed a sequence of emotive melodies reflecting on the last days of his father’s life, with muted horn setting the very personal, deeply felt tone of this music from the start. Along with the expressive grace and restraint of Cohen’s trumpet, there is searching, often blue-hued piano, lyrically mirroring saxophone and a kindred-spirit rhythm duo that responds with utmost subtlety to the beauty in the music.
The core quartet for Into the Silence features Cohen alongside two longtime collaborators: pianist Yonathan Avishai (a decade-long member with the trumpeter in multicultural band Third World Love) and first-call New York drummer Nasheet Waits (one-third of Cohen’s freewheeling trio Triveni). Bassist Eric Revis, a mainstay of the Branford Marsalis Quartet for two decades, has also been a key rhythm-section partner for Waits in multiple bands (including in the cooperative trio Tarbaby with pianist Orrin Evans and in guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel’s trio). Augmenting Cohen’s quartet on several pieces is tenor saxophonist Bill McHenry, an understated modernist who has played with the likes of Paul Motian and Andrew Cyrille.
“Although the first time this band ever played together was in the studio for this album, there are links between each of us,” Cohen says. “I’ve known Yonathan since I was 12, sharing music with him in so many ways over the years. As for Nasheet, I recorded three albums and toured the U.S. and Europe with him in my Triveni trio. Since this Into the Silence band was coming together in the studio, I really wanted there to be a tight rhythm section – and Nasheet and Eric have the deepest connection, from Tarbaby and so much else. They’re fearless together. And I was able to play with Eric when he joined one of our Triveni tours in America, subbing for Omer Avital. With Bill McHenry, he and I played before just informally a few times – but I immediately felt close to his sound. His voice was required for this music.”
This music consists of the melodies Cohen composed over six months following his father’s passing in November 2014. “The dissonant piano figure you hear in the beginning of the track ‘Into the Silence’ came to hand on the piano in my parents’ house right after my father died,” he explains. “I was dealing with a wide range of feelings that I couldn’t really deal with in words, only in music. The title of the song and album refers to the silence of absence, the way you see pictures of someone who is gone but you don’t really hear them in your life anymore.” The 15-minute “Dream Like a Child” refers to “how my father had always wanted to take music lessons and learn to be a musician when he was growing up, but his family couldn’t afford it for him,” Cohen explains. “But he made sure that his children – me, my sister, my brother – all got to have those lessons and learn instruments, as well as to play together.”
During his father’s final weeks and after, Cohen listened to an album of Rachmaninoff’s solo piano music “constantly, on a loop, when I was a plane or a train, or going to sleep,” he recalls. “I think the emotional spirit of those preludes, etudes and elegies wound their way inside me. I became obsessed with the harmonies of his music, particularly the inner voices. The music isn’t just sad, either – there is surprise. A lot of life is in that music. It was inspiring for me. I was also listening a lot to Eric Dolphy’s Out to Lunch. Obviously, my record doesn’t sound anything like that – but the honesty of Dolphy’s music and the close way his band interacted were on my mind.”
Cohen lived with his melodies for months, just in his head or at the piano. Much of the music had never come through his horn until the first takes in the studio. “I played through the tunes with Yonathan at the piano before the recording session, but it was brand new to everyone else, so everyone’s responses were completely fresh,” the trumpeter says. “The first track you hear on the album, ‘Life and Death’ – that’s the band’s very first impression of the piece. We were all discovering the potential of the music as we were playing. The experience of working with Manfred was fantastic. I’m used to producing my own records, but it was invaluable having his ears and experience for something like this. We saw the same picture in our heads from the start, shaping the album together as we went.
“The vibe in Studios La Buissonne in the South of France was very relaxed – and very cohesive, with recording, mixing, mastering all taking place in three days,” Cohen adds. “I think you can hear both the relaxed quality and the cohesive process in the music, as it all feels of a piece. My last few albums with my Triveni band were oriented toward improvisation, loose and extroverted. Into the Silence has a different focus, more inward. It’s about the compositions, bringing out the stories and the feelings of those melodies.”

Avishai Cohen

For four years running, Cohen has been voted a Rising Star-Trumpet in the DownBeat Critics Poll. Along with leading his Triveni trio with Omer Avital and Nasheet Waits, the trumpeter was a member of the SF Jazz Collective for six years. He also records and tours the world with The 3 Cohens Sextet, the hit family band with his sister, clarinetist-saxophonist Anat, and brother, saxophonist Yuval. Declared All About Jazz: “To the ranks of the Heaths of Philadelphia, the Joneses of Detroit and the Marsalises of New Orleans, fans can now add the 3 Cohens of Tel Aviv.”
The trumpeter began performing in public in 1988 at age 10, playing his first solos with a big band and eventually touring with the Young Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra to perform under the likes of maestros Zubin Mehta, Kurt Masur and Kent Nagano. Having worked with Israeli folk and pop artists in his native country and appeared on television early on, Cohen arrived as an experienced professional musician when he took up a full scholarship at Berklee College of Music in Boston. In 1997, the young musician established an international reputation by placing third in the Thelonious Monk Jazz Trumpet Competition. Avishai came of age as a jazz player as part of the fertile scene at the club Smalls in New York’s West Village.
Cohen first recorded for ECM as part of saxophonist Mark Turner’s quartet on Lathe of Heaven, released in September 2014. The trumpeter has performed at the Village Vanguard and beyond with Turner, as well as widely in a band led by pianist Kenny Werner. Cohen has played often in the Mingus Big Band and Mingus Dynasty ensemble, and he has lent his horn to recordings by Anat Cohen, Yuval Cohen and keyboardist Jason Lindner, along with collaborating on stage and in the studio with French-Israeli pop singer Keren Ann. In addition to performing, Cohen was named the Artistic Director of the International Jerusalem Festival in 2015.

Track Listing:

1. Life and Death (Avishai Cohen) 9:18

2. Dream Like a Child (Avishai Cohen) 15:30

3. Into the Silence (Avishai Cohen) 12:12

4. Quiescence (Avishai Cohen) 5:10

5. Behind the Broken Glass (Avishai Cohen) 8:12

6. Life and Death (Epilogue) (Avishai Cohen) 2:43


Avishai Cohen: trumpet

Yonathan Avishai: piano

Bill McHenry: tenor saxophone

Eric Revis: double bass

Nasheet Waits: drums

Recorded July, 2015, at Studios La Buissonne, Pernes-Les-Fontaines

Produced by Manfred Eicher


Trumpeter Avishai Cohen makes his ECM leader debut with Into the Silence, an album dedicated to the memory of his late father. Cohen composed the melodies over six months following his father’s passing in November 2014, inspired by an album of Rachmaninoff’s solo piano music. It’s not always sad music—this is not a collection of dirges—but it does maintain a contemplative mood throughout. Cohen says “The title of the song and album refers to the silence of absence, the way you see pictures of someone who is gone but you don’t really hear them in your life anymore.” 
Cohen found an empathetic group to share this personal vision. The core quartet features him and two longtime collaborators: pianist Yonathan Avishai (a decade-long co-member in multicultural band Third World Love) and busy New York drummer Nasheet Waits (also in Cohen’s trio Triveni). Bassist Eric Revis, a mainstay of the Branford Marsalis Quartet for two decades, has also been a rhythm section partner with Waits in multiple bands. Tenor saxophonist Bill McHenry joins in on three tracks (he has played with Paul Motian and Andrew Cyrille, but had previously only played with Cohen informally).  Cohen’s muted sound on the melancholy opening ballad “Life And Death” establishes the tone of the album from the start (including the unexpected double-time coda, a sign of the compositional thought behind the seemingly loose ensemble sound). He has a beautiful muted tone, which unavoidably recalls Miles Davis playing ballads. “Dream Like A Child” features a gorgeous, rhapsodic piano solo, as well as the first appearance of McHenry’s saxophone. It’s a remarkably selfless performance: on this and the title track, he is limited almost exclusively to an ensemble role, chiefly playing thematic material with Cohen, plus some brief call and response. He doesn’t take an extended solo until his last appearance on “Behind The Broken Glass.” 
Welcome though McHenry’s playing is, the balance seems just right. The focus stays on the core quartet, with just a bit of additional color for variety. Special mention should be made of pianist Avishai’s playing throughout, both as soloist and accompanist. He gets the last word, playing “Life And Death—Epilogue” solo. I have to wonder whether knowing the background of the inspiration for this music colors the perception of it—it seems unlikely that a listener encountering these tracks blind would guess what they were “about.” It’s beautiful music regardless, and clearly has a unity earned by the the consistent spirit in the composing as well as the spontaneous approach that the group took to this performance.

Mark Sullivan (All About Jazz)