Although tenor sax/bass/drums trio recordings have been plentiful for decades, a trumpeter plus bass and drums has been an infrequent combination on record. The young Israeli Avishai Cohen is up to the challenge, accompanied by bassist Omer Avital and drummer Nasheet Watts. Cohen's interpretation of Don Cherry's "Art Deco" is playful and lighthearted, while his expressive muted horn in the slow, slinky take of Duke Ellington's oft-recorded "Mood Indigo" would have likely made its composer smile.
Avishai Cohen contributed all ten selections to Continuo, originals that are often influenced by Middle Eastern music. Cohen's bass dominates throughout, easily taking the most solo space. His trio with pianist Sam Barsh and drummer Mark Guilliana is tight, often being joined by Amos Hoffman on oud. The music is atmospheric, sometimes introspective, touched strongly by Western classical music and spontaneous in spots.
Avishai Cohen impressed a lot of listeners with his soulful contributions to Mark Turner’s Lathe of Heaven album in 2014. Now the charismatic Tel Aviv-born trumpeter has his ECM leader debut in a programme of expansive and impressionistic compositions for jazz quartet (trumpet, piano, bass, drums), augmented by tenor saxophone on a few pieces. Into The Silence is dedicated to the memory of Avishai’s father David, reflecting upon the last days of his life with grace and restraint. Avishai’s tender muted trumpet sets the emotional tone of the music in the album’s opening moments and his gifted cast of musicians explore its implications. Israeli pianist Yonathan Avishai has played with Cohen in many settings and solos creatively inside the trumpeter’s haunting compositions, sometimes illuminating them with the phraseology of the blues.
From the brooding opening title track to the closing Chet Baker homage, "I Fall in Love Too Easily," Dark Nights unapologetically embraces the heart of jazz. Every aspect of the album—from the cover photo, to Cohen's precise trumpet inflections, to the trio's dedication to immediacy and collective improvisation (and even the album's forays into electronic affects)—is saturated with the emblematic textures, rhythms, and imagery of jazz. This is achieved with professionalism, creativity, and skill, without a wit of irony or cliche, while avoiding both navel-gazing insularity and crowd-pleasing revivalism.
Avishai Cohen, who became well known in the jazz world during his period with Chick Corea, is one of the top bassists in the world. His virtuosity and constant creativity in both a modern mainstream format and on funkier grooves seem effortless. As Is…Live at the Blue Note contains a CD (the first seven selections) and a DVD. "Smash," "Feediop," the ballad "Remembering" and an overlong "Caravan" (the one non-original) are featured in both formats while three songs are different.