Fri March 9, 2012
Avishai Cohen's Triveni With Anat Cohen On JazzSet
Born and raised in Tel Aviv, Avishai is the brother of Anat Cohen, the reed woman and leader of the Anzic Orchestra. From the Kennedy Center in 2009, we open with Anzic, as "Samba de Orfeu" morphs into "Struttin' With Some Barbecue," spotlighting the trumpet section one man at a time, concluding with Avishai.
As rich as Anat Cohen's orchestra is with the brass, woodwinds and cellos, Avishai Cohen's trio is spare with just trumpet, bass and drums. Clearly, Ornette Coleman is an influence. In fact, Avishai Cohen has had the pleasure of hanging out at home with the great Coleman — almost 50 years his senior — and playing music in private sessions together.
Another group Avishai Cohen loves is Codona from the late 1970s. Collin Walcott, Don Cherry and Naná Vasconcelos introduced an open, folkloric sound and uncharted direction to jazz. (Note: As a production assistant on NPR's Jazz Alive! in 1982, one of my first assignments was to shape a Codona program and interview the trio. Walcott played many instruments, and I believe on this recording, he was playing tablas. Cherry played the pocket trumpet. I interviewed him at the McDonald's on Eighth Avenue near Penn Station. It's still there; I think of him every time I walk past it. Only Vasconcelos, the berimbau player from Brazil, is alive today.)
"Don Cherry and Ornette Coleman playing together — the main similarity is freedom," Avishai Cohen says. Both are and were "free from any preconceived ideas of what music should be."
The trio of trumpet, bass and drums "is a very challenging setup, because without the help of piano, guitar, vibes or a harmonic instrument, you have to fill in the space, [to] say something and go on to the next artist." The essence of Triveni's airy (Avishai's word) sound is how, aware of one another, each player creates interesting flowing lines, and lets the space among them participate. This is active music, not a series of tableaux. Think of artists sketching and drawing together; that's how I hear Triveni.
Newport was the first time this trio ever performed together. (The trio on the album Triveni is Cohen, Omer Avital and Nasheet Waits.) Just before coming to Newport, they had rehearsed in Italy. Travel is a huge part of Cohen's life, as noted in the title "Safety Land." He wrote it on a plane.
Anat Cohen joins the trio on clarinet for the closing piece, not to be missed.
Newport Jazz Festival coverage is produced by Josh Jackson. Recording by David Tallacksen with Michael Downes. Surround Sound mix by Duke Markos.