Avishai Cohen – Cross My Palm With Silver (2017)

There’s only one reason needed to listen to an Avishai Cohen record: that trumpet tone, that gorgeous, pure, full resonance that goes right past your ears and straight for your soul. It’s an unalloyed sound which put together with Cohen’s knack for quietly passionate compositions, had made him a perfect fit for ECM Records’ pristine production values, the things that made his ECM debut from 2016 such an accomplished record.

Cohen doesn’t put much distance between Cross My Palm With Silver, now out from ECM, and that prior label debut Into The Silence; if you like the latter, there’s no reason not to like the former, and there’s no reason not to like either in any case. It’s largely the same backing band: Nasheet Waits (drums), Yonathan Avishai (piano) and high school friend Barak Mori replacing Eric Revis on double bass. No guest appearances from saxophonist Bill McHenry make this a straight quartet date from start to finish.

And no unifying theme this time, such as the passing of Cohan’s father…but the son can’t help but to invest real human emotion and a call for compassion suggested by titles but carried out by the way his harmonies articulate and develop like a plea. “Will I Die, Miss? Will I Die?” were the anxious words of a Syrian child after suffering a chemical attack, words Cohen attached to a song that gives off a sense of sorrow and helplessness. Cohen lets his band flourish: Avishai finds the right balance between notes and silence, Mori undertakes a lead part with earnest sentiment and Waits’ deft touch on cymbals and snare alone pilots the subtly shifting cadence of the song.

Avishai, Mori and Waits set the table with an abundance of taste for “Theme For Jimmy Greene,” after which Cohen plays his trumpet in a lead that’s not so much a solo but an unfiltered outpouring of notes resembling a soliloquy searching to make sense a tragedy that befell the song’s namesake. Cohen and Waits engage sensitively at the front end of “340 Down,” the song taking form when Mori introduces a simple bass figure that Cohan contemplates well after the figure is withdrawn.

The extended “Shoot Me In The Leg” is a feature for Avishai, who makes the notes not played as impactful as the ones that are. “50 Years and Counting” is more vigorous than the other tracks but still lithe and somewhat dark in keeping with the overall vibe of the album.

The delicacy and low-key passion of Avishai Cohen shows up through his trumpet, compositions and every member of his quartet. Letting all three of these things breathe freely makes Cross My Palm With Silver speaks volumes about Cohen feels without saying a single word.

S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron is an SQL demon for a Fortune 100 company by day, music opinion-maker at night. His musings are strewn out across the interwebs on jazz.com, AllAboutJazz.com, a football discussion board and some inchoate customer reviews of records from the late 1990s on Amazon under a pseudonym that will never be revealed. E-mail him at svaaron@somethingelsereviews .com or follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SVictorAaron
S. Victor Aaron