Newfound Intimacy

Avishai Cohen -  Aurora
Avishai Cohen – Aurora
Avishai Cohen

Aurora (EMI, 2010)

Most music fans know Avishai Cohen as a top jazz bassist. His latest album, Aurora, however, is full of twists and surprises. The first thing that catches your attention is that Cohen introduces his voice as a leading element. His magnificent bass is still present, but vocals in Ladino, English, Hebrew and Spanish play a leading role in this album.  “It’s a very good practice for any musician, to learn to sing. It’s a beautiful practice in humility, an ongoing craft,” Avishai explains, musing on why he took up singing after decades as a successful jazz bassist. “But you have to take care. You have to like yourself enough to listen to yourself. To accept things that don’t always come out just how you imagined them. It is very exposed.”

Musically, Cohen ventures into an exceptional combination of Sephardic songs that he learned from his mother, as well as jazz phrasings, Middle Eastern scales, flamenco melodies, Latin beats and Bach cantatas. "When I was really young, Bach’s music fascinated me. He sustains two melodies at the same time, and one supports the other: Without one, the other can’t exist,” Avishai notes. “It’s like a fifth dimension that comes into play when I’m listening to and creating music.”

I incorporate the feel of the clave a lot into my compositions. Whoever invented it was a genius,” Avishai exclaims. “It’s a common language that, in two bars of music, unites Africa, Cuba, and New York, where I heard some of the best players perform. That influenced my writing big time; I’m a rhythmic thinker, yet very melodic.”

Avishai Cohen’s band includes Amos Hoffman on oud, Itamar Doari on percussion, Shai Maestro on piano, and Karen Malka on vocals. Two additional musicians participate in the recording as guests: Stephane Belmondo on trumpet and flugelhorn and Lionel Belmondo on flute.

Aurora presents a new side of virtuoso jazz bassist Avishai Cohen, who emerges as an articulate vocalist and composer in the areas of contemporary jazz and world music.

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