May 29, 2024

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CD review: Avishai Cohen & Yonathan Avishai – Playing The Room 2019: Video, CD cover, Photos

Playing The Room bears testimony to the long musical friendship of Avishai Cohen and Yonathan Avishai. They began to explore jazz as teenagers in Tel Aviv, and have continued to play together over many years, with Yonathan making important contributions to Avishai’s group albums Into The Silence and Cross My Palm With Silver on ECM.

Their first duo album begins with music composed by the trumpeter and by the pianist and concludes with a touching interpretation of Israeli composer Alexander Argov’s cradle song “Shir Eres”. Along the way, Avishai and Yonathan improvise – freely, playfully, soulfully – on themes from jazz tradition. And, as the album titles implies, they also invite the recording space, the Auditorio Stelio Molo RSI in Lugano, to be part of the sound, making full use of its resonant acoustic properties in a performance with the intimacy and focus of chamber music. Recorded in September 2018, and produced by Manfred Eicher, Playing The Room is available as both audiophile vinyl album and compact disc.

Image result for Avishai Cohen & Yonathan Avishai - Playing The Room

A few duo albums this year have stirred my imagination. The first was a saxophone-piano duo which was the work of Mark Lockheart and Huw Warren and now this Avishai & Avishai piano-trumpet duet is primus inter pares. Recorded in Lugano a year ago this is I would describe an album of impressionism grounded in modality but at the freer end even when in terms of exuberance and “wildness” it mostly abstains and yet journeys to the soul of things via a kind of blueness. Cohen, above left, has a lonesome faraway quality while pianist Avishai who disappointed for me anyway on Joys and Solitudes released at the beginning of 2019 is wonderful, no two ways about it, here. I have added Playing the Room to my albums of the year list so far. Above all … Room works because of its mastery of mood. The choice of piece whether a take on a Stevie Wonder classic or the Sasha Argov composition ‘Shir Eres’ covered in the past memorably by Noa is immaterial up to a point because as well as mood, rapport, the capturing of time and silence – and the understanding each display as the tunes navigate their passage – is all.

  1. The Opening (Avishai Cohen) (4:24)
  2. Two Lines (Yonathan Avishai) (6:25)
  3. Crescent (John Coltrane) (8:20)
  4. Azalea (Duke Ellington) (3:35)
  5. Kofifi Blue (Abdullah Ibrahim) (6:25)
  6. Dee Dee (Ornette Coleman) (3:22)
  7. Ralph’s New Blues (Milt Jackson) (4:26)
  8. Sir Duke (Stevie Wonder) (3:35)
  9. Shir Eres (Lullaby) (Nathan Alterman, Alexander Argov) (4:25)

Personnel:

Avishai Cohen – Trumpet;
Yonathan Avishai – Piano

Image result for Avishai Cohen & Yonathan Avishai - Playing The Room

Image result for Avishai Cohen & Yonathan Avishai - Playing The Room

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