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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, James Poore, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Bert Thompson, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf



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Avishai COHEN

Almah

PARLOPHONE (no cat. no)

 

 

1. Overture ‘Noam’ op.1

2. Song for my Brother

3. On a Black Horse/linearity

4. A Child is Born

5. Arab Medley

6. Southern Lullaby

7. Hayo Hayta

8. Shlosre

9. Kefel

10. Kumi Venetze Hasadeh

 

Avishai Cohen (double & electric bass & vocals)

Nitai Hershkovits (piano)

Ofri Nehemya (drums, except tracks 1&10)

Cordelia Hagmann (violin, except track 10)

Amit Landau (viola, except track 10)

Noam Haimovitz Weinschel (viola)

Yael Shapira (cello)

Yoram Lachish (oboe & English horn)

Amir Bresler (drums on track 10)

Keren Tannenbaum (violin on track 10)

Galia Hai (viola on track 10)

rec. at Kicha Studios, Tel Aviv, Israel 2-9 June, 2013 except track 10 4-5 September, 2012. [43:39]

 

Thank heavens you can’t wear out CDs by over playing them or this one wouldn’t last long! What we have here is a trio of piano, bass and drums augmented by violin, two violas, cello and oboe and English horn. It is exceedingly rare in my experience for jazz to successfully incorporate a ‘classical’ line up within the jazz idiom without it sounding like two separate entities at odds with each other. Recently I came across the Laura Jurd Quartet whose debut disc Landing Ground had a classical string quartet playing alongside trumpet, piano, bass and drums and Laura had cracked it by creating a fully integrated sound. That’s what Avishai Cohen has done here too on his fourteenth album as leader and the result is beguiling, thrilling and exceptionally musical and I can’t stop playing it.

There is a meeting of musical styles on display with strands from Eastern Europe melding with Israeli and Arab melodies, which that other great Israeli jazzman Gilad Atzmon is also well known for doing. The music is perfectly constructed and wonderfully presented making for a hugely satisfying experience that I guarantee will have you wanting to replay it many times before giving it a rest.

There are several tunes that were written by others than Avishai Cohen, including track 4 A Child is Born by Thad Jones, but all are given the Cohen treatment so that there is an overall sense of unity which makes for a disc which is superbly rounded. Arab Melody which is obviously traditional is a real treat, full of the most exciting tunes that while clearly timeless are rendered bang up to date once they’ve been filtered through the Cohen prism – delicious!

Tracks 6 & 7 are also heavily influenced by traditional music and it’s a refreshing change to hear jazz that is not a simple restatement of the classic format but something that could only emanate from a particular culture. The overriding point however is that music is international, transcending any man-made boundaries with ease and that it is an inherent need that rises above petty squabbles; an international language we can all appreciate. To that end this disc can be seen as a major contribution. Tal Hashiloni, presenter and broadcaster said of the album that it “...defines a new language which carries the genes of a perfect synthesis between classical music and jazz, giving both the depth and respect they deserve”. I couldn’t have said it better.

Steve Arloff



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