From Darkness - Avishai Cohen Trio

This is one of my many favorite jazz fusion albums, and it certainly won’t be the last on which I write. This is relatively unique though, blending elements from Israeli and other world music with traditional jazz instrumentation and harmonic/melodic methodologies. It was released in 2015 and features a trio of Avishai Cohen, an Israeli bassist, Omri Mor on piano, and Itamar Doari on drum set. There are some noticeable influences from the Middle Eastern Region in terms of instrumentation and some of the harmonic structures, but for the most part, it falls deftly into the category of post-bop, which evolved from an amalgam of hard bop, modal jazz, and free jazz in the early- to mid-1960s.

Cohen has released albums on his own and in the trio before and after this one, but this sticks out to me as a favorite because there isn’t a single miss on the album, to my ears. Each song brings a new, engaging variation on the themes that are used throughout. The group tackles hard meters and even harder internal rhythmic structures with seemingly no effort. For example, in “C#”, although the meter is a relatively simple waltz, the offset piano and bass rhythms, supplemented by a steadfast hold on the tempo from the drums allows for a surprisingly cohesive use of a very challenging metric figure.

But, this album isn’t just a group of talented musicians showing off. The second to last track, “Smile,” is a ballad which follows lilting piano licks and accompanying soft bass lines. Doari underscores this with his gentle use of brushes and light cymbal strokes to create a very comfortable ambiance. It’s a beautiful song which wraps itself around me every time I listen to it.

Overall, this album brings together a group of extremely strong jazz musicians with a sense for the music, beyond the techniques and skills that they have. This isn’t rare, by any means, but it’s a particularly good example of this concept, and a very good album. 9/10.