Avishai Cohen ‘Seven Seas’ (Blue Note) 4/5

Bassist Avishai Cohen has always been something of an enigma. His live performances have been full of vibrant virtuosity and inventive reflection and yet his studio albums at least have never quite matched the former and have largely disappointed. This new album is probably his most accessible thus far and betrays the marked influence of Middle Eastern folk music incorporating oud and sensitive use of brass. The varied format of musicians keeps the listener on the edge of his/her seat throughout and on the title track trio plus percussionist excel. A similar riff to ‘Take five’ permeates ‘Dreamin’ which is notable for its use of wordless vocals (from Cohen himself) and piano riff in the main theme. Overall there is a simplicity to the compositions that impresses such as the groove laden ‘Ani aff’ which is truly hypnotic, or the more austere sounding ‘Staar’. Interestingly the set was actually recorded in, of all places, Sweden where the brass section resides. One looks forward to a new live recording of the present band with added percussion.

Tim Stenhouse