Avishai Cohen a New York City–based trumpet player and composer, originally from Tel Aviv, Israel, has the honour of closing this year’s Piacenza Jazz Festival. His fascination with the great Miles Davis has led him to be an inquisitive, explorative musician and composer, creating very eclectic,original music. His debut album “The Trumpet Player” got him on the map, and many collaborations since then as a sideman, co-leader in jazz collectives and various bands of his making have followed, cementing his reputation as a natural talent able to encapsulate many musical genres.
Since 2016 he has been recording music on the well known jazz based label founded in Germany, ECM, and indeed his latest offering “Naked Truth” saw him return to a small quartet, creating a nine part, largely improvised suite in the recording studio. The musicians on the record are with him tonight; these longtime allies being Yonathan Avishai (piano), Barak Mori (double bass) and Ziv Ravitz (drums). The location chosen for tonight’s concert is Spazio Le Rotative in the heart of Piacenza and as befits the event it is sold out.

They amble on stage and take their places and it takes just a few bars of the first song to be played “Will I Die, Miss? Will I Die?” from the 2017 ‘Cross My Palm With Silver’ LP to take one into another headspace completely where evocative images come to play, musical textures built up by the beautiful rhythmic melodies of Yonathan and Barak, with Ziv creating a percussive backdrop that will pepper the songs and guide the affair sometimes to more hostile, more antagonistic pastures and then other more melancholic, reflective tangents. Add to this the exquisite trumpet of Avishai Cohen himself, malleable and versatile as a singer’s voice, the notes seemingly having the weight of words in what they suggest to the listener.

Excusing themselves that they will not play ‘Naked Truth’ as was suggested by the organisers, after Avishai gave a solemn discourse of the pain they feel about the war in Gaza and a call for a ceasefire, they proceed to play what will be the new album, some songs not as yet named, they are so fresh. It will be a richer event for it with the band completely immersed in the collective, no histrionics or interminable solos; it’s all about giving the right space and dynamics to what needs to be expressed. Avishai uses delay effects on his trumpet playing which is really pleasurable and innovative.

Before closing with the song “Azalea” dedicated to his daughter, Avishai was sincere in thanking the audience for being open to the listening process, but I have to say it came easy such was the magic that engulfed the crowd thanks to these wonderful musicians, friends for over 30 years as Avishai told us; something that seemed to resonate with the music too.
Please take the time to check them out. They are touring Japan, playing the Blue Note Club for various nights and then come to Europe in May. Music from the heart for the mind.