CD review: Avishai Cohen with Nitai Hershkovits

(Blue Note)

The word might be Spanish – it means “spirit” – but the mood is that distinct one Avishai Cohen has been exploring over the last few albums. It’s a hugely uplifting mix of jazz and Middle Eastern folk traditions, all conveyed with extraordinary facility.

This latest album from the Israeli double bass player who first made his international name in Chick Corea’s band, is a duo affair with 24-year-old Tel Aviv pianist Nitai Hershkovits.

The pair might not have been playing together that long but they already show an extraordinary unity of spirit and a common vision.

As with Cohen’s recent albums, the original themes are richly melodic with quickening and slowing rhythms that give them a marvellous organic feel.

But there are also familiar jazz standards here, too, including Thelonious Monk’s Criss Cross, with Cohen playing such a strong walking bass, that you’d swear there was a drummer there behind the piano solo, Cole Porter’s All Of You, and John Coltrane’s Central Park West.

Four Verses/Continuation feels almost like classical chamber music. It has a rich and dignified formality with Cohen bowing and shadowing Hershkovits, then taking over with plucked bass and that lustrous tone of his, before turning in a quickly picked and beautifully articulated (amazing at that speed) solo.

Soof is a classic Cohen melody, highly reminiscent of his work on Aurora and Seven Seas, and Hershkovits really does it proud. I suspect this is not the last we will hear of this collaboration. Here it is:

When most CDs these days run to over an hour, it’s striking that this one that clocks in at under 34 minutes feels even better value for money. A real gem.

Categories: CD review

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