Avishai Cohen opened the JCJ coverage at April jazz 2012, with what has got to be one of the best crowd pleasers of the festival.
With Omri Mor (piano) and Amir Bresler (drums), this flaming trio from Israel, one of the tightest groups I’ve ever heard play together, displayed an empathy and understanding for each other’s talents that was a pleasure to experience.
The double bassist transported the audience into Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, and strong Sephardic folk root flavours that were fuelled with rhythm and melody, using the body of his instrument for abrupt percussive momentum which carried through into striking register leaps of sound. Cohen was expressive and animated, bouncing around the double bass with supreme finger work.
The band he has assembled is a perfect compliment to his virtuosity, the sparks flying in the sheer joy of their performance. Omri Mor’s sensitivity and playfulness were punctuated with eruptions of toothsome sound. Amir Bresler was a powerful force underpinning the exuberant improvisation with every single contact of the drums. It seems superfluous to mention how young these two musicians are but praise must further be given to Cohen for providing a platform, that allows for their musical exuberance to balance so well with their undoubted talent.
Communication is critical when playing at this calibre. Moments of cheer and shouts of approval followed the bass/piano dialogue midway when a musical conversation occurred that was simply sublime.
A versatile musician and composer, Cohen carried this into his vocals when sentimentality broke through and a tradtional Ladino song graced the audience. One taught through the generations from parent to child.
A two encore performance with standing ovations for both, the audience were ecstatic by the stunning trio but would’ve no doubt kept standing for more.
Check out his site and see where you can hear him live, it’ll be worth it – Avishai Cohen
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