Trumpeter Avishai Cohen presents Dark Nights - the third album from his electrifying trio Triveni with bassist Omer Avital and drummer Nasheet Waits - on October 28, 2014, via Anzic Records. Cohen, voted a Rising Star in the DownBeat Critics Poll two years running, is joined on the album not only by his powerhouse rhythm mates but also by three special guests: superstar clarinetist Anat Cohen (Avishai's sister and band mate in The 3 Cohens); Grammy-nominated pianist Gerald Clayton; and hit-making French-Israeli vocalist Keren Ann. Avishai has worked with Keren Ann for more than a decade; the two shared their love of Chet Baker by performing "I Fall in Love Too Easily," a standard long associated with the legendary singer-trumpeter. But the purview of Dark Nights is wide, from intimate lyricism to electrifying virtuosity, from jazz classics to progressive originals. The evergreen balladry of Billy Strayhorn's "Lush Life" and Charles Mingus's "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat" rubs shoulders with compositions from Avishai's pen that groove hard and burn slow, by turns. There's a deep-blue wail ("Betray," featuring Anat's clarinet) and a free-minded tribute to Ornette Coleman ("The OC"), as well as numbers accented by Avishai's electronic effects,including his emotion-rich title track and the grooving "Old Soul" (with both Anat and Clayton). Throughout, Avishai's playing has never been more expressive, underscoring The New York Times description of him as "an extravagantly skilled trumpeter, relaxed and soulful. . . deftly combining sensitivity and flair."
DownBeat Magazine raved over 2012's Triveni II. The magazine's review - which gave the album four and a half stars - called the trumpeter "a versatile, modern master" while adding: "Cohen and company improvise together so wonderfully that they often sound shocked at their collective inventions." The New York City Jazz Record lauded Triveni II at length: "Cohen proves himself a versatile and virtuosic trumpeter on the diverse playlist, able to handle just about anything, whether it's free or traditional, quiet or loud, fast or slow. Avital, a longtime colleague and fellow member of Third World Love, has an uncanny rapport with the trumpeter, while Waits, who has played in trios with the likes of Jason Moran and Fred Hersch, provides energetic drum work throughout. The absence of a piano here affords the trio added harmonic freedom and they take advantage of it with some soaring, adventurous improvising." All About Jazz echoed the praise, characterizing the album as "a quantum leap" in Cohen's artistry and adding about the Triveni trio: "When these three men match wits, barbs and quips, the results are stunning."
Cohen's Triveni partners - Avital big-toned, funky and melodic à la Mingus, Waits as dizzyingly inventive as he is swinging - could hardly be more attuned to the trumpeter's sensibility. "I've been playing with Omer for so long that we have total rapport," Cohen says. "We can hear where each other is going harmonically and vibe-wise, and our feel for time is hand in glove. He's an incredible bassist and musician, almost like a second horn player he's so melodic. Nasheet is still a mystery to me in a good way - always surprising. He's such a force, an incredible drummer who never plays anything but the music itself, no 'licks'."
For their third album as Triveni, the three musicians convened in Brooklyn's Bunker Studios without having toured the music or even rehearsed it beforehand. The trio recorded in the same room together, as with their prior sessions, with no separation and without headphones, helping impart a vital sense of intimacy to the music-making. "With just a single day in the studio, and a whole lot of music to learn and record on the spot, we set the rule of the day: 'No more than two takes per song'," Cohen explains. "That focused the process, giving the session a sense of movement, of flow. Just letting the music be, and relaxing into that feeling - this enabled us to embrace the unknown, to seek the right vibe above all. Even the electronic effects overdubs on this record were made in a 'first take' manner - listening to the track and just reacting to the music, trusting my instincts. All of this helped impart a big sense of spontaneity to this session, particularly in the shaping of the music. My tunes were new to Omer and Nasheet, and I didn't tell them what to play, or even what I heard as their parts. When it came to the standards, their parts were a more obvious call, of course, but their interpretations of the songs stayed their own - which makes this album as much theirs as it is mine."
Even having the first-ever guests to appear on a Triveni album was a spontaneous touch. Anat and Clayton were traveling together back to New York from a West Coast gig, and they came straight from the airport to join Triveni in the studio after a call from Avishai. Anat - whom Avishai calls "not just my sister but one of my favorite musicians in the world" - launched into "Betray" just minutes after entering the studio, yet the first take was the master. With Anat again on clarinet and Clayton on electric piano, the impromptu quintet recorded "Old Soul," a tune Avishai wrote about his son. As for Keren Ann's inclusion, Avishai says: "I always call her the 'voice of an angel.' She has something that always blows me away: this fragile, simple yet haunting voice, with a special way of phrasing. She and I were touring together right before the session, so it felt right for her to join Triveni in the studio, too. We gave Omer and Nasheet a break while the two of us went over 'I Fall in Love Too Easily' with Gerald on piano - but we never ended up recording a full band version. When we listened back to the run through, it sounded complete with just the three of us."
Summing up his aims, Cohen says: "Whether we're playing with guests or on our own as a trio, my approach to Triveni has been to challenge ourselves to balance freedom with self-restraint, to always stay lyrical and true."
Avishai Cohen, born and raised in Tel Aviv, Israel, but resident in New York City for more than a decade, played his own headlining set at the 2011 Newport Jazz Festival, and he tours the world as part of the prestigious SF Jazz Collective and with The 3 Cohens Sextet, his hit family band with his sister, clarinetist-saxophonist Anat, and brother, saxophonist Yuval. With his elder siblings, Avishai has performed at Carnegie's Zankel Hall and twice played a headline run at the Village Vanguard, and the three Cohens shared the January 2012 cover of DownBeat magazine. Avishai was named Rising Star - Trumpet in the DownBeat Critics Poll of 2013 and 2012. As a co-leader, he tours and records with Third World Love, his longtime collaborative venture with bassist Omer Avital, pianist Yonatan Avishai and drummer Daniel Freedman. International Music Network represents Cohen for booking and tour management.
Cohen's discography includes seven albums as a leader: The Trumpet Player (Fresh Sounds New Talent, 2002), After The Big Rain (Anzic, 2007), Flood (Anzic, 2008), Seven (Anzic, 2008), Introducing Triveni (Anzic, 2010), Triveni II (Anzic, 2012) and Dark Nights (2014). He has also recorded four albums as co-leader with The 3 Cohens Sextet and five with Third World Love, along with being featured on several albums with the SF Jazz Collective. As a sideman, he has appeared on recordings by Mark Turner, Anat Cohen, Yuval Cohen, Jason Lindner and singer-songwriter Keren Ann, among others. His music-making can also be heard on such soundtracks as American Gangster and Soul Man.
Cohen began performing in public in 1988 at age 10, eventually touring with the Young Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra. He attended the Berklee College of Music in Boston on a full scholarship, and in 1997, he established his international reputation by placing third in the Thelonious Monk Jazz Trumpet Competition. Cohen came of age as a jazz musician as part of the fertile scene at Smalls, the storied club in New York's West Village, where he developed his artistic vision alongside such friends and colleagues as pianist Jason Lindner and bassist Omer Avital. All of his diverse work as a leader, co-leader and sideman is informed by the fresh, broad-minded legacy of this scene. Recently, Cohen has toured as a member of top bands led by Mark Turner and Kenny Werner, and he appears on Turner's upcoming ECM quartet album. Hot House Jazz magazine justly called Avishai Cohen "one of the most exciting voices on the horn to arrive in this century."
AVISHAI COHEN'S TRIVENI: DARK NIGHTS
1. "Dark Nights, Darker Days" (Avishai Cohen)
2. "You in All Directions" (Avishai Cohen)
3. "Betray" (Avishai Cohen)
4. "Pablo" (Avishai Cohen)
5. "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat" (Charles Mingus)
6. "The OC" (Avishai Cohen)
7. "Shiny Stockings" (Frank Foster)
8. "Lush Life" (Billy Strayhorn)
9. "Old Soul" (Avishai Cohen)
10. "I Fall in Love Too Easily" (Jule Styne/Sammy Cahn)