Thu. May 19th, 2022

Israeli trumpeter Avishai Cohen describes his latest work, a largely improvised nine-part suite, as the end-product of a two-year meditation. The process began early in the pandemic with a motif that, once conjured, refused to go away; introducing “Part II” as ripples of piano, it returns in various guises later in the work. But for the most part, the suite’s strong emotions are launched by sonic fragments from Cohen’s simpatico band: a hiss of cymbals and a roll of mallets on “Part IV”, on “Part V” a sequence of passing chords.

Cohen’s trumpet style brings together brooding Harmon mute, European influences and perfectly pitched sustains that soar on high. He now forges that somewhat eclectic mix into a forceful personal voice that pairs each musical train of thought to its core. On this release, his accompanists are equally astute. Spacious, lyrical and slightly melancholic, the album presents Cohen’s existential musings with a sweeping splendor and a minimum of fuss.

The suite opens with sparse notes of Barak Mori’s rich-toned and resonant bass supporting plaintive Cohen trumpet, each line phrased precisely with just a hint of breath. Cohen adds mute for “Part II”, sustaining notes with arpeggiated piano underneath. On “Part III”, the tempo quickens, and flurries of muted trumpet fly over a major key before a roll of mallets introduces “Part IV”, the album’s longest track. Here, Cohen ruminates in the lower register while piano and drums knit perfectly in support.

Album cover of 'Naked Truth' by Avishai Cohen

Pianist Yonathan Avishai has a solo feature mid-set, followed by a short showcase for Ziv Ravitz on drums. Cohen returns muted, moody and hinting at song on “Part VII”, playing over dark-toned piano. On “Part VIII” he brashly energizes the mood while piano and drums ebb, flow and shift dynamics underneath.

The album ends with Cohen’s pristine reading of “Departure”, a poetic reflection on mortality by the late Israeli writer Zelda Schneurson Mishkovsky. As her sombre words confirm the album’s existential themes, piano, bass and drums combine delicately underneath.

★★★★ ☆

Naked Truth‘was released by ECM

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