Avishai Cohen: “The trio is like my heartbeat”
Charismatic and creative jazz soloist, the Israeli double bassist Avishai Cohen returns to France this summer, where he feels “like at home”. “My French fans have remained very loyal over the years, it’s really touching and so rewarding” he told us.
As a trio, with Roni Kaspi on drums and Elchin Shirinov on piano, he is launching the Nuits d’Istres tonight with his “globalised” jazz.
What is the genesis of your latest album “Shifting Sands” recorded as a trio?
I started creating the Shifting Sands compositions at my home near Jerusalem on my piano during the pandemic. It is this union between man, sound and soul that has created this magnificent record.
It was quite an unusual way of working but, at the same time, I found it cool as a challenge. Indeed, every day, I shared my ideas and my progress with the few people who watched me, it stimulated me a lot.
And it was finally during the concerts we did with the trio in the summer of 2021 in Europe, before recording them in Sweden, that the compositions really came to life. It had never happened to me not to be able to do concerts for so long, which really allowed me to appreciate my work.
You have your own style in jazz, open, is it linked to your classical training and your origins?
Without a doubt! Admittedly, my music is above all jazz, but since I was very young, I have been open to all styles of music. So, you can hear in my compositions Afro-Caribbean rhythms, Sephardic sounds, Israeli folk songs, and many more.
You have played in different formations, why do you keep coming back to the trio?
I feel good in a lot of configurations, it’s really the music that determines which formation is best suited to reflect what I imagine. But it’s true that the trio is the form I come back to most often because it’s the closest to the basics.
In 2021, I released, with my trio and a philharmonic orchestra, the album Two Roses. I really like the changes and the dynamic it brings to me as a composer.
The trio is like my heartbeat and everything comes naturally between the three members.
What is unique about this new trio?
A few years ago I started looking for something new for the piano, Elchin wasn’t on the radar at the time, but my drummer at the time and friend Noam David recommended it to me. I listened to his music and contacted him. He came to Israel to audition and off we went! It was in 2018.
Roni, I met her during the confinement on Facebook. I posted videos in which I played and sang, she took over on drums. I loved it so I contacted her. She was 20 years old and I was impressed by her game, her maturity and her energy. She therefore joined the team in 2022.
I still have so much fun playing with them every night. We are really connected all three, we let the music hover between us and the public.