Avishai Cohen ‘Cross My Palm With Silver’ LP/CD (ECM) 3/5

Trumpeter Avishai Cohen’s new studio album, recorded at Studio La Buissonne, features five lengthy original compositions and is firmly in the mid-1960s post-hard bop vein. The ten minute plus opener, ‘Will I die, Miss? Will I die?’, is a sparse number with Cohen accompanied solely by the piano, to begin with before bass and drums enter gently. All of a sudden, the pace goes up a notch with a distinctive piano vamp. Once again it is the clarity of tone in Cohen’s trumpet that stands out with definite shades of 1960s Miles Davis. It is the apparent simplicity of the piano performance that impresses with a dream-like quality.

Elsewhere, pianist Yonathan Avishai comes across as a keen student of the Andrew Hill school of piano playing, especially on a piece such as, ‘Shoot me in the leg’, on which he takes a lengthy solo in the introduction. Inventive drumming from Nasheet Waits and a repetitive riff from Avishai makes for an entertaining listen here. Cohen is at his most impassioned on, ‘Fifty years and counting’, which is a mournful number that still manages to retain a certain lyricism and there is certainly plenty happening underneath the surface with inventive drumming from Waits and the interweaving bass lines of Barak Mori.

Sometimes, Avishai Cohen can come across as being somewhat stuck in a rut as evidenced on the stark ballad, ‘Theme for Jimmy Greene’. This never really seems to get going. In a more improvisatory vein, ‘340 down’, is something of a jam session with trumpet and drums in tandem. Not nearly as engaging as the ECM debut of a few years back, in parts the music this time around is, to these ears at least, a little too obscure and lacking in overall cohesion. Various black and white photos illustrate the band in a relaxed mood, even playing pétanque outside.

Tim Stenhouse