Avishai Cohen - Cross My Palm With Silver

Label/Year: ECM, 2017

Lineup - Avishai Cohen: trumpet; Yonathan Avishai: piano; Barak Mori: bass; Nasheet Waits: drums.

avishai-cohen-cross-my-palm-with-silver

Avishai Cohen, an intuitive Israeli trumpeter, is one of the most proficient voices of the creative jazz scene. Imagination and passion for exploration are constant aspects in his music, which also benefits from a deliberate openness and compositional adroitness.

His second recording for ECM, Cross My Palm With Silver, is a 5-track delight that shines through the impeccable effort and rapport of a quartet with Yonathan Avishai on piano, Barak Mori on double bass, and the sought-after Nasheet Waits on drums.

Pulsating at a 3/4 tempo, “Will I die Miss? Will I Die?” mixes sketches of Spain with Middle Eastern scenarios. Cohen plays the melody on a crystalline upper register, accommodating it on top of the relentless chordal arrangement of Yonathan. Nasheet appends his beautiful work on cymbals and the drumming bubbles with elegance while Mori sticks to his rhythmic task after uttering the melody. His textures, simultaneously warm and airy, are ideal for the trumpeter’s lucid laments.

Although leisurely paced, “Theme For Jimmy Greene” exemplifies how to create and release tension with exceptional acuity. It feels crushingly emotional thanks to Cohen’s long notes within beautiful short phrases.

Wandering over a path that avoids major startles, “340 Down” is a quiescent piano-less interaction. Only momentaneously, Mori comes to light with an ostinato that matches the last phrase delivered by Cohen. 

Shoot Me in the Leg” boasts an introductory piano section where Yonathan serves up punctilious melody, complex swirling phrases, exquisite chords and arpeggios, and polyphonies, before settling in a cyclic arrangement of voicings. These are combined with bass and drums to better attend to Cohen’s exultant phrasing and pitch range. At this point, the quartet fascinates through a hallucinogenic momentum that penetrates straight into our brains. Yonathan brings cool comping ideas throughout Cohen’s solo and then takes off to blur the line between melodic lines and harmonic underpinnings. The layers of sound are gradually reduced for the ending, and the bandleader ends up alone, centered on a melodic phrase that reappears cyclically.

On the closing number, “50 Years and Counting”, we find Cohen soloing with all his heart. His attacks are composed of intervallic refinement, majestic gestures, and visceral breakthroughs, entailing non-stop emotional impact. In contrast, Yonathan inflicts melodic ideas expressed with a feathery stylishness in his improvisation. This piece lets us immersed in a state of zen, from which I didn’t want to wake up.

Defying convention, Cross My Palm With Silver embraces impressionism as it explores the edges of form and freedom. This is Avishai Cohen at the top of his game.

Favorite Tracks: 
01 – Will I die Miss? Will I Die? ► 04 – Shoot Me in the Leg ► 05 – 50 Years and Counting