We listened to Avishai Cohen Trio at Cemal Reşit Rey concert hall on the 15th of February.
Avishai Cohen is celebrating his 50th birthday with his “50 50 50” project by giving 50 concerts in 50 countries.
Cohen was born in Israel and his family roots go back to Spain, Greece and Poland. He dedicated his life to improv during the years he spent learning about jazz in New York. He was a street musician. He took theory classes in college. He accompanied Chick Corea many times during concerts.
He is now across us on the stage. Under the blue and purple lights, in the smoke. He treats his double bass as his partner. He sometimes gently pats it. Occasionally he plays the same melody with the piano simultaneously. He sometimes loses himself in the pizzicatos. I wonder if the ring on his right hand will make a sound.
He is accompanied by Elchin Shirinov on the piano. His back is almost completely turned to the audience. Drummer Noam David faces Avishai Cohen. Cohen is standing right across the audience in the middle of the stage. The musicians make eye contact among each other. The piano and double bass climax with this contact.
Imaginary modern dancers occupy my mind during some jazz concerts. That happened during this concert as well.
I had trouble hearing the bass during the first years into learning jazz. Did I hear it well this time due to the passing of time or because Cohen has the most solid sound that could be created with a single finger? I wondered if his fingers hurt while playing.
Avishai Cohen Trio (Photo: Hande Çayır)If you were to ask what would be the main theme of this article, I would want it to be the facial expressions of double bass players. Cohen takes this to another level. I can list many of these facial expressions from the purest movements of a baby to a lover who doesn’t hide their expression while making love to wild cat running freely in an empty forest.
The intros of the pieces were balanced. There were times when piano started first and there were occasions when drums did the same. I saw the drums had two mics from where I sat while the piano had only one. The mics were directed towards the drums while the piano one stood further away.
I thought Noam David would take a break after the applause but he continued playing. This made me think “When does the internal rhythm of a musician coincide with that of his audience? How does it diverge?”.
Cohen had a towel to wipe his sweat on and a bottle of water. He took a moment to say he likes our food. He introduced his band mates but not himself.
He introduced Shirinov as a musician from Baku and David as one from Jerusalem.
The musicians didn’t give messages like “now like us” or “let me show off”. Instead, they seemed to stand behind a diffetent message: “Our job is to make music, less conversation more music, we will spend all our time on our music and let’s listen to one another well”.
I wanted to take a look at the audience for a second. Everyone was paying the utmost attention. The cleansing power of the music was so strong that I thought nobody in this audience would cut corners or grant others undeserved favors. The people who would listen to this music surely wouldn’t commit bad deeds.
Cem Mansur and Ufuk Uras were there as well.
Shirinov couldn’t stand still. One of the drum sticks of David flew away and fell on the front of the stage. He pulled out another one right away from thin air and continued without a pause, this was one of the greatest moments of the concert. And of course he received loud applause for this.
Cohen sang a song I frequently heard from Sibel Köse during the encore: Alfonsina Y El Mar. He sang it gently. As the saying goes, “less is more”. While his relationship with his bass is daring and borderline exhibitionist, his relationship with vocals were on the other end of the spectrum.
Cohen started playing the piano when he was 9 years old and took an interest in the bass when he was 14. He started playing the acoustic bass when he was 20.
Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child gospel was an unforgettable experience during this evening.
The concert was more melodic than I expected. The evening was filled with Middle Eastern sounds, Afro-Carribean rhythm, sefaradi melodies, Israeli folk songs, pop and jazz elements.
Cohen’s sources of inspiration as listed as Bach, Stevie Wonder, Led Zeppelin, Charles Mingus and Jaco Pastorius.
His best friend has been his double bass since he was 20 years old…