Avishai Cohen is no stranger to Bay Area audiences.
During his six-year run with the SJazz Collective (2009-2015), the Israeli-born trumpeter explored the music of Chick Corea, Joe Henderson and Stevie Wonder with the all-star ensemble, while contributing some of the more memorable original tunes to the octet’s ever-expanding repertoire.
But when Cohen returns next week for performances Sunday at San Jose’s Art Boutiki and Monday at Yoshi’s, he comes bearing a very different kind of sound. With the release of his first album on the German label ECM, 2016’s “Into the Silence,” he seemed to pivot from the buoyant world-jazz grooves of the collective quartet Third World Love and the blue-flame, post-bop heat of his own bands.
Instead, “Into the Silence” offers a stark meditation on mortality, a searing response to the recent death of his father. On 2017’s follow up “Cross My Palm With Silver,” his quartet ventures into a more spacious realm where jazz and classical music intersect, a crystalline space defined by the meticulous production and conspicuous reverb for which ECM is famous. Was it a case of an artist adapting himself to a label’s aesthetic?
“ Whatever label I was going to record for, I would bring whatever was happening at that moment,” said Cohen, 41, in a recent Skype conversation from the southwestern Indian state of Goa. “For my first album on a major label, I had all these great tunes I hadn’t recorded yet, and I didn’t want to do that. I try to see what the present brings, and it helps not judging what you write.”
Trusting your instincts is a lot easier when you’re surrounded by some of the world’s finest improvisers. For his West Coast tour, Cohen is joined by longtime friend Barak Mori on bass and drummer extraordinaire Marcus Gilmore. Taking over the piano chair for the first time is Cuban-born maestro Fabian Almazan, a composer of growing stature who presents his string quartet project Rhizome on June 13 as part of SFJazz’s San Francisco Jazz Festival.
“Fabian and I haven’t really played together, but I’ve heard him many times, and I love his playing,” Cohen says. “The piano chair is very important. The pianist has to be very inside and very free. He’s got the sensitivity and the lyricism that’s required for this.”
Almazan has also been a regular presence on Bay Area stages for the past decade, most frequently with trumpeter/composer Terence …
Source:: East Bay – Entertainment