Avishai Cohen’s Melodic, Masterful Gently Disturbed Was a Canny Update

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It was tempting to tag Avishai Cohen – who is, after all, another hotshot bassist alumnus of Chick Corea-led bands – as the “new” Stanley Clarke, but that’s a lazy comparison. Cohen can effortlessly flutter up and down those thick strings just as ably as Clarke, but his approach is fundamentally different. Having also been trained as an accomplished pianist, Cohen plays his stand-up with more of a piano voicing, and he is born to interplay with that chordal instrument.

It makes sense, then, that a piano-bass-drums trio album like Gently Disturbed, released on May 20, 2008, would be well suited for Cohen – and it was exactly that. The best thing about this record was that the talent on hand was well deployed, without turning into a wankfest. Avishai Cohen, who wrote or co-wrote nine of the 11 tracks on Gently Disturbed, took special care to make sure the songs have melodic lift to them. Joined by 21-year-old Israeli pianist Shai Maestro and longtime drummer Mark Guiliana, they wove their improvisations into the tunes, more than on top of them.

So, a song like “Seattle” lightly waltzed with pleasant lines, so much so that the careful group interplay entered our consciousness only subtly. “Chuzpan” employed Chick Corea-esque shifting time signatures, but the folk-like melody flowed in an almost classical sense. Songs such as “The Ever Evolving Etude” and “Variations in G Minor” even more strongly suggested classical influences, while maintaining some of the looseness of jazz.

While Shai Maestro shows plenty of capability to handle Cohen’s intricate compositions, and Mark Guiliana seems to anticipate every slight mood change, it’s still Avishai Cohen’s show. He displays total mastery as part of the tight unit, as well as with his thoughtful solos.

Brad Mehldau may have defined the art of the trio for the 21st century from a pianist’s point of view. With this new group, however, Avishai Cohen made a case for a modern jazz trio more from the bassist’s perspective. Best of all, he did it without diminishing the role of the piano. Gently Disturbed is where Cohen rested his case.


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
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