Avishai Cohen Trio: From Darkness


My beliefs about Israeli-born bassist Avishai Cohen have evolved over the years. Upon the release of his 1998 debut CD as leader, Adama, on Chick Corea’s Stretch/Concord imprint, I was immediately intrigued by the double-threat emergence of this major talent and recent addition to Mr. Corea’s working band. As a bass player he seemed a burst of sensitive virtuosity, quite fluid in approach but also post-John Patitucci, by which I mean unlike some of Mr. Corea’s prior sidemen his playing exhibited both soulfulness and restraint. I also recall initially thinking as well that here was a composer of great promise, and by-and-large that promise has been fulfilled for me across his eclectic fifteen-disc discography.

From Darkness, Mr. Cohen’s latest CD, available on Razdaz Recordz/Sunnyside, features pianist Nitai Hershkovits, drummer Daniel Dor and Mr. Cohen on bass. For me, a new and highly engaging ensemble precision thoroughly evident on this trio’s recording debut enhances and accompanies Avishai’s excellent compositions.

On “Beyond,” the album’s opening track, Daniel Dor’s masterful drumming, Nitai Hershkovits’ command of the piano’s full dynamic range and Avishai’s bass fills make for a winning two-minute introduction to what lies ahead. “Abie,” which follows, shows inventive use of the trio format; its recurrent Latin motif, displaced by individual bass and drum developments in the first half, followed by a haunting riff that ends with a surprise drop-off, evinces real arranging and writing acumen, creating multiple levels of interest greater than the sum of changes and solos that so many piano trios typically fall into.

Of the many great solo features evident throughout this album, my favorites include Nitai’s piano solo on “C#” and Daniel’s brushwork on “Ballad for an Unborn,” where his subdued interplay seems all too rare in a world of loud drummers. On the other end of the dynamic range, “From Darkness,” catches fire due to Avishai’s lead electric bass work.

The contrast between the subtle dissonance of “Amethyst” and the cloudless-sky sunshine of Charlie Chaplin’s “Smile,” beautifully arranged to add a touch of doubt to the poignant melody, closes this disc on a most uplifting note. That sense of sunshine along with the precise, of-one-mind group interaction makes From Darkness my favorite among Avishai Cohen’s discs to date. With all there is to explore on this disc, I hope you’ll decide to listen and see if you don’t agree.

Avishai Cohen Trio: "Jazz Sous les Pommiers" (France, 2013)