Avishai Cohen 1970


Song of Hope; My Lady; It’s Been So Long; Se’i Yona; Emptiness; For No One; Motherless Child; D’ror Yikra; Move On; Ha’ahava; Vamonos Pa’l Monte; Blinded (45:48)
Yael Shapira (cllo, v); Elyasaf Bishari (oud, b, v); Jonatan Daskal (kybds); Avishai Cohen (b, v); Tal Kohavi (d); Itamar Doari (perc, v); Karen Malka (v). Paris, April 2017
SONY 88985462022 CD

I’m reminded of a critical comment from the jazz-rock era, about musicians changing direction after hearing the ringing of distant cash-registers. That seems to be what’s happened in this sad descent from Cohen’s previous release from 2015, ‘From Darkness’. I described it as “one of the most exciting albums I’ve had to review for Jazz Journal… probably the finest Latin-jazz disc I’ve been privileged to hear…endlessly inventive and affecting”.
Here is Avishai on his new, major-label release: “It’s not a jazz record…I’ve always had a connection to pop. I like pop as much as I like Bach and Charlie Parker…Singing has become very serious in my life over time. I’ve been asked by many people, when is the vocal album gonna come? Well, this is it”. The publicity comments that ” ‘1970’ is arguably the most personal recording that Cohen has made so far in his career, as the title refers to the year he was born”. This is bullshit – it’s by a long way his most commercial, rhythmically-leaden, anonymous and banal album. Those epithets apply also to his singing, and even – God forbid – his bass-playing.
The material is arranged for electric rhythm section featuring Fender Rhodes, but with the leader on acoustic bass; unlike Cohen’s previous albums, which were self-produced, ‘1970’ calls on producer Jay Newland. The leader aimed at “a spiritual connection with the 70s. All my influences are almost African and definitely African-American, like Stevie, soul and funk which came before hip-hop, I like that too”. He’s deluded – there’s no living connection with the classic sounds of the 70s. The one-star rating is probably too generous for this pile of ordure.
Andy Hamilton

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