Meet Reviewer Damian Erskine
“As Is… Live at the Blue Note”
Israel-born Avishai Cohen made quite a splash in 1992 after moving to NY City and has since become one of the more important contemporary voices in Jazz. In addition to playing with Brad Mehldeau, Danilo Perez, joining Chick Corea’s Band “Origin” and Corea’s “New Trio” (until late 2003), Avishai has redefined the sound of modern jazz with 8 fabulous releases under his own name (as well as releasing a book of his music (Song Book, Vol. 1)).
His latest, “As Is.. Live at the Blue Note”, not only gives us a well executed live perspective of selected excerpts from previous releases, but also allows us to see this phenomenal trio in action via an included Live DVD from the Blue Note. The band (consisting of Mark Guiliana (drms), Sam Barsh (pno) & Jimmy Greene (sax)) is simply divine. This is a jazz album of the highest order (as is the case with all of Avishai’s releases) and not just another “bass player” album. Although the CD is chock full of beautiful bass solo and wonderful grooves, it’s really the musicality & cohesiveness of the band as a whole that stands out. The quartet (quintet on the song “Etude” with the addition of trumpeter Diego Urcola) nimbly navigates and interacts with each other while staying true to Cohen’s tricky (yet always enjoyable and tangible) compositions. Cohen is known for his global, border-less and almost transcendent perspective on music, as well as his ability to present songs in a way that is never “heady” or awkward. This CD is a wonderful example of exactly that. Listening to this CD gives one a broader view of what music can do when put into the hands of masters who can not only speak the language but also surrender themselves to the moment, while letting the music dictate where it wants to go. Definitely a “must have” for music lovers.