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Avishai Cohen Trio

Avishai Cohen Trio
@ the Barbican Centre
24 November 2018

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Avishai Cohen biography

Avishai Cohen, born in Kabri, Israel on April 20th, 1970, grew up in a multicultural family whose roots were found in Spain, Greece and Poland. At home, music was always in the air, with his mother Ora, an artistic influence, listening to both classical and traditional music. Cohen’s musical journey began when he was nine years old, when he began playing the piano. After moving to St. Louis, Missouri with his family aged fourteen, he continued to study the piano and began to play the bass guitar. The electric bass put a spell on him when his teacher introduced him to the music of luminary bassist Jaco Pastorius. Back in Israel, Cohen joined the Music and Arts Academy in Jerusalem to further explore the bass universe. At the age of 22, having served for two years in an army band, he decided to take a big step and moved to New York City.

Cohen arrived in a wintry New York, January 1992. Moving to the ‘Big Apple’ was a challenging decision, emotionally as well as professionally. The young Israeli had a tough beginning; performing on the streets and working in construction to get by. These small steps gave his music a unique sense of authenticity. He studied at the New School in New York City with such artists as Brad Mehldau and was soon to be performing and recording with Panamanian pianist Danilo Perez’ Trio, reflecting the essential role that Latin music played in Cohen’s early years whilst in New York.

In 1997, a call from Chick Corea changed everything. Avishai Cohen had passed one of Corea’s friends a demo tape without particular hope of being noticed. Corea listened to it in his car and called Cohen back a few weeks later, blown away by its freshness. As a member of “Chick Corea’s New Trio” and a co-founder of Corea’s ensemble, “Origin”, for over six years Avishai became an integral part of Chick Corea’s music and received the opportunity to fine-tune his skills as a bassist and composer. Performing with Chick Corea played an important part in shaping his musicianship, which led Avishai Cohen to consider Chick as a teacher, colleague and friend.

Cohen’s first four albums, (Adama, 1998 Devotion, 1999 Colours, 2000 Unity, 2001) were released under Corea’s label ‘Stretch / Concord Records’ and already featured the essence of his music and original compositions; Mediterranean and Latin influences, and the use of horns and vocals created a sound that was truly unique. “Unity,” Avishai’s fourth album as a leader and the first to showcase his skills on piano, deserves a special mention. The album was recorded with the International Vamp Band, a group of fellow musicians formed by Cohen, from different parts of the world (Mexico, Argentina, Cuba and Israel). The idea behind the cutting-edge project was to allow different cultures interact and converse using the medium of music, delivering a message of peace and harmony.

The growing range of projects he was involved in led Cohen to create his own record label with his manager in 2002, ‘Razdaz Recordz’, enabling him to follow his own path as well as record talented young musicians he believed in.

Throughout 2013, Cohen presented a new, unique project, ‘Avishai Cohen with Strings’ to a worldwide audience. At the center of this project was a string quartet with a difference; Cohen replaced one of the violins with a viola in order to benefit from its darker timbre and create more depth. An oboist was further added to the ensemble and joined Cohen’s core trio. Cohen’s warm vocals in Hebrew, Ladino and Spanish subtly created a mood that complimented the luscious instrumentation on his own one of a kind composition. He found in this original configuration - “a classical setting with an escape into jazz” as he described it himself - the best way to fully express his love for both, through written music and improvisation and to let influences that have existed for years to blossom.

In 2014, Cohen extensively toured with his trio, and his “Almah” project ‘trio with strings’, worldwide. Furthermore, Cohen produced and presented All Original, released on his own label Razdaz Recordz, a beautiful compilation of music celebrating the growing young Israeli Jazz talents and scene. Cohen hand-picked the musicians featured on the album who he considers some of the leading young composers of this movement.

2015 saw the release of the new, highly anticipated trio album named “From Darkness” (Razdaz Recordz) featuring Nitai Hershkovits (piano) and introducing the talented Daniel Dor on drums and marked the next step in Avishai Choen’s career. The Trio, a format that has always been present in his music and guides him on his artistic journey, has never been praised so much than in this album; outstanding for the unity and mutual listening between the three partners: “With this Trio, there is an immediate form of equality between musicians.”

“Here, three becomes one” says Cohen.

“From Darkness” combines the strength, the groove and the rhythmic challenges of original pieces such as “Lost Tribe” or “C#-,” with the sensitivity and fragility noticeable in “Almah Sleeping” or “Ballad for an Unborn”. Far from being a plunge into darkness, this release proves to uplift the listeners and the musicians: “If there is an effect I like feeling within myself whilst playing, it’s this one. It is the very essence of the music, a goal to achieve … in those difficult lives of ours, music can be a form of salvation. At least this is what it has always represented for me” says Cohen.

Edited by Robin Francis for Michael Valentine Studio
Visit Avishai Cohen’s website to read his full biography

Avishai Cohen Trio

Avishai Cohen Trio Avishai Cohen Trio

Avishai Cohen Trio

Avishai Cohen Trio

Avishai Cohen Trio

Avishai Cohen Trio

Avishai Cohen Trio

Avishai Cohen Trio

Avishai Cohen Trio

Avishai Cohen Trio


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