Bass usually takes a back seat in jazz performances. Starting with the location on the stage, where the bass is relegated to the back of the stage (maybe no to dwarf the other instruments some will say) and especially in sounds where the it provides tonal counterpoint and rhythmic support. However in a typical jazz concert the bassists have at best a few solos. Not when Avishai Cohen and one of his bands is on stage! One of the things that is different is that with Cohen the bass dominates the show, is in the center and directing everything else that happens from a musical point of view, not to speak of Cohen’s own personality. Now, after having followed the show last night at the Zappa Club in Tel Aviv I need to get back to his older recordings with musicians like Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, Bobby McFerrin, Roy Hargrove to see and hear again how he performed when he was part of the band or supporting other musicians.

 

avishay_cohen

 

The band last night at Zappa was not his usual trio (or the one he was performing with all over the world during the last year. Pianist Nitai Hershkowitz is the latest revelation of Cohen, and he is excellent – warm, articulated, with a rich sound and perfect understanding of Cohen’s musical soul. I was less impressed by the guest drummer, the Spanish Jorge Rossi – he is OK but not at the level of Cohen and Hershkowitz, but his presence was fine for the last ‘Spanish/South-American’ part of the show. Cohen himself was impressive, he is at the pick of his strength and maturity, he covers the whole stage and makes the audience vibrate despite of the fact that his music is almost at no moment ‘easy’, he relates to his instrument as to a peer with whom he dances and makes love to, and gets some of the best possible sounds.

 

(video source Avishai Cohen Music)

 

I found on the Internet a full concert of Cohen with his (original) trio from 2012, with many lines of similarity in duration and music with what he did last night in Tel Aviv. His music is complex and sophisticated, piano and bass have almost equal parts, and most of the compositions inspired (also) from the Jewish ethos and Bible characters have personality and dramatic power. If he is around your place (he will be in Romania later this spring for example) do not miss him!