Album Review: Avishai Cohen — Seven Seas

Israeli bassist Avishai Cohen offers us an inspired new album with Seven Seas. A founding member of Chick Corea’s sextet, Origin, Cohen proves once again that he is a talented and visionary composer, delivering 12 lingeringly evocative tunes, all of which resonate with a sort of mystical elation and spiritual bliss.

Cohen’s compositions draw heavily from the rhythms, melodies, and harmonies of the Middle East, a region whose diversity and cultural depth provide an almost endless source of musical inspiration. The interplay between Eastern and Western idioms, unfolding like a dialogue between Old World and New, resonates umistakealy in the music of Seven Seas.

Contributing to the dense musical fabric of Cohen’s group are singer Shai Maestro, multi-instrumentalist Amos Hoffman, percussionist Itamar Daori, vocalist Jeny Nilson, sax-player Jimmy Greene, flugelhorn-player Lars Nilsson, trombonist Bjorn Samuelsson, and english horn player Bjorn Bholin These musicians bring a patchwork of sonic ideas to the dense musical fabric of Cohen’s work. Their individual contributions melt together perfectly in the swirling lyricism of Cohen’s arrangements.

The album’s opening track, the aptly named Dreaming, invites the listener into Cohen’s vast and trance-like musical world. Built upon a rolling piano melody and hymnal vocal strains, the song is at once pleasantly mollifying and energetically charged. This flawless mixture of serenity and fury captures the album’s musical ambitions, as well as Cohen’s range as a composer.

The horn players on Seven Seas seem an extension of Cohen’s harmonic piano voicings, enhancing the flavor of Ani Aff with their bright, punctuating riffs and adding a contrasting tone of subdued understatement to the harmonious tableau of Worksong. These tracks, though singular in the compositional structure, are integral to the unity of the album as a whole, reaffirming the holistic artistry of Cohen’s work. However, it is the title song of Seven Seas, with its stirring rhythmic motifs, that really bespeaks the albums overall message. The song portrays a mood that, like the sea, can range from elegance and grace to darkness and ferocity.

Cohen’s Seven Seas is truly an artist’s palette of an album. But instead of colors, this talented Israeli bassist mixes human emotions with powerfully rendered musical styles. The resulting album is expressive and heartfelt, a series of songs that, when taken together, resonate on the highest frequencies of artistic expression.

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