I can’t remember the last time I saw a bandleader count in a tune with snapped fingers. But with Avishai Cohen it seems a natural fit. The guy radiates an effortless, warm cool. Yes, warm cool! The music press touts him as a Miles Davis-influenced player of uncommon voice and while that’s true, he also fits neatly within a new generation of players who are simultaneously lyrical and intellectual, raw and polished who turn on a dime with unexpected nods to tradition.
Avishai brought a crack quartet to perform in Vancouver as part of The Chutzpah Festival and after opening with a classic Count Basie tune, performed, in its entirety, the new release Into the Silence on ECM. This was a rare appearance north of the border but this Tel Aviv-born, New York-based gem will doubtless be returning if the reception given by the night’s packed house is any indication.
Normally I like to offer a little bit of an interview with the music-related posts but time was fairly tight this time around. I found Avishai to be very accommodating and generous with his time for this and the session reminded me why I do it. It creates the kind of connection that can spin off in unpredictable ways and, hopefully, pique some curiosity among new listeners for a music that remains deep, relevant and, when performed at this level, exhilarating to experience live.