07 November 2010

Review: Introducing Triveni

Avishai Cohen
Introducing Triveni

It seems like every other album I've been listening to lately has been either a sax-bass-drums or piano-bass-drums trio. Finally I get some variety, in the form of a trumpet-bass-drum trio, no less. All kidding aside, I cannot find many examples of the trumpet-led pianoless trio (though Miles Davis' second quintet comes close, since Herbie Hancock sometimes sat out during Miles' solos). But the new album from Israeli-born Smalls-bred trumpeter Avishai Cohen is a refreshing statement of neobop which avoids cliche and stays interesting on multiple listens.

It seems the model for his band is not another trumpet player's group, but the early-1960s ensembles of Sonny Rollins and John Coltrane (Cohen covers Trane's Wise One and many of the scaler lines in his solos remind me of Sonny Rollins). The title of the album is a Sanskrit word meaning the confluence of the three holy rivers in the hindu tradition, the physical rivers Ganges and Yamuna, and the mythic Saraswati River. In Cohen's ethos, the Triveni are hard bop, funk, and the avant-garde, the three dominant strains of postwar American jazz.

Cohen's trio, which includes bassist Omer Avital and drummer Nasheet Waits, is well versed in the three styles alluded to in the album's title, and in most cases weave them together relatively seamlessly. On their version of Don Cherry's Art Deco, the group opens with a freeish take on Cherry's melody before moving into a more straightahead feel. Though playing a tune written two decades ago and referencing subgenres who saw their heydays years before that, the three sound totally of the moment. In doing so, they manage to avoid becoming a nostalgia act, which you should know by now is my biggest pet peeve.

   Avishai Cohen - Art Deco

Cohen's got chops. He can make the kind of dexterous runs across partials reminiscent of Freddie Hubbard's 1960s output. Though his lines seem very familiar at times (I swear I've heard Sonny Rollins play them before), he manages to sound fresh despite the familiarity. This is a very enjoyable album. I might not remember it well in two or three years, but in the month or so I've had this album in my iPod, I've enjoyed it more with every listen.

Track Listing: One Man's Idea; Ferrara Napoly; Art Deco; Mood Indigo; Wise One; Amenu; You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To; October 25th
Personnel: Avishai Cohen, trumpet; Omer Avital, bass; Nasheet Waits, drums

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