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Bassist/composer Avishai Cohen, a jazz visionary of global proportions -DownBeat, and one of the 100 Most Influential Bass Players of the 20th Century -Bass Player Magazine, offers to the world his spectacularly beautiful new recording, Continuo, a project that gloriously combines the influences of classical and Middle Eastern music. These elements together produced the combination of sounds I was looking for, and created a nice balance between composed and improvised music, says Cohen. Continuo (the follow up to the critically acclaimed At Home) displays the magic of a working band, which in this music is stronger than any concept, says Cohen. He continued, I'm very grateful to have two young masters (pianist Sam Barsh and drummer Mark Guiliana) of their instruments with me to convey that they are young in their ever thirsty minds for more information, and old enough in their souls to emotionally express themselves on a very high level through the compositions. The trio, a crackerjack unit that has been on the road for the last two and a half years, welcomed into the fold a long-time collaborator of Cohen's, fellow Israeli Amos Hoffman, who contributed his singular oud playing to several tracks. Avishai explains, a lot of the new material on Continuo has a through-composed, classical music-like nature to it, as well as open sections for solos. In addition to that, there are strong Middle Eastern influences in some parts of the compositions. Contemplating the material for the album, I realized I wanted an additional color added to the trio in order to enhance those influences. There was only one man for the job, Amos Hoffman. I'm excited and proud to offer you some moments of my life once again, reflected through the music, says Cohen.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
His compositions have a poetic simplicity and creative elegance that is lacking in a lot of modern jazz music. As a bass player, Cohen makes no effort to overshadow the other members of his trio. Oudist Amos Hoffman makes several appearances on the album, adding to Cohen's trademark Middle Eastern sound.
This is certainly not Cohen's best work. Give that prize to his second solo album "Colors." It is quite clear that a larger ensemble serves as a better vehicle for his work. Continuo is a fine album worth the $11 though.
Sam Barsh (piano), Mark Guiliana (drums, percussion), and Amos Hoffman (oud) all demonstrate remarkable lyricism, deft skill, and incredible musicianship in handling Cohen's twisting time signatures and powerful rhythmic phrases.
Also, the compositions in this CD have some of the most emotionally powerful (sometimes almost pump-upish, sections in any music I've ever heard. The music is always accesible and beautiful, but never at the expense of depth and integrity of composition.
Every single track on this CD is top quality. I highly recommend it.
I had to go to Amazon just to find Avishai Cohen, the new heavy-hitter of jazz bass and an exceptional composer.
Listen to Avishai Cohen's compositions played on his accoustic and electric basses with Sam Barch on the piano, Mark Guiliana, drums and percussion -- and get this, Amos Hoffman on the oud.
The oud, a mideastern stringed instrument, has the exotic pluck of all that is good about the world.
"Continuo," is a world of wonderful listening. Cohen's other CD in my Collection, "Colors" is another marvel.
It's no surprise that Avishai Cohen and his trio are adept at drawing from multiple influences: Cohen himself is Israeli born and bred but came to musical prominence in New York City backing the likes of Chick Corea. Sam Barsh started classical piano before switching to jazz with a blend of funk, r&b and groove on top. These threads are immediately apparent when you listen to his playing. Mark Guiliana is a New Jersey born drummer with fingers in both the jazz and the rock pies and adept at mixing both. Maybe this overview of the trio give you a sense of the musical blend I was talking about earlier. The addition of Amos Hoffman on Oud on a couple of tracks adds the little bit of spice that makes Continuo exotic.
What I like about the music on Continuo is that it's uncompromisngly melodic without being tame. It seems to me that Jazz has a complicated relationship with melody because it's a necessary element that you must nonetheless kill if you can. Avishai Cohen's trio manages both to perfection in my opinion. Fans of exploratory jazz improvisation might feel frustrated I guess, but for me the limited level of "out" is just right. Listen to Nu Nu, the opener: slow dirge intro to strong syncopated oriental melody gives to hard groove with oud and bass improvisations. There's variety and entertainment without compromise.
Avishai Cohen demonstrates that even in the 21st century you can play jazz with integrity but without necessarily sacrificing listenability. You can also play a jazz that draws from very varied influences without compromising the essential jazz nature of the music. That's what excites me about this record, and - to be honest - the two Avishai Cohen records that followed.