Big Vicious Avishai Cohen
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- 1Honey Fountain04:34
- 2Hidden Chamber04:42
- 3King Kutner04:10
- 4Moonlight Sonata05:30
- 7The Things You Tell Me03:11
- 8This Time It’s Different03:20
- 9Teno Neno06:03
- 10The Cow & The Calf03:55
Info for Big Vicious
Charismatic trumpeter Avishai Cohen launched his exuberant, home-grown band Big Vicious six years ago, after relocating from the US to his native Israel, rounding up players to shape the music from the ground up, and co-authoring much of its newest material together with them. The group is an association of old friends. “We’re all coming from jazz, but some of us left it earlier”, Avishai says, summing up the stylistic reach of his cohorts. “Everyone’s bringing in their backgrounds, and that becomes part of the sound of the band.” Textures from electronica, ambient music and psychedelia are part of the blend, so too grooves and beats from rock, pop, trip-hop and more. A wide-open approach to cover versions – from Massive Attack to Beethoven - is also integral to the Vicious vision. Recorded in Studios La Buissonne in the South of France in August 2019 and produced by Manfred Eicher, Big Vicious’s debut album is issued as the band gears up for extensive international touring.
“We’re all coming from jazz, but some of us left it earlier”, Avishai says, summing up the idiomatic reach of his cohorts. “Everyone’s bringing in their backgrounds, and that becomes part of the sound of the band.” Textures from electronica, ambient music and psychedelia are part of the blend, so too grooves and beats from rock, pop, trip-hop and more. Ziv Ravitz: “In the combination of everything, this is a magical group. It’s very special because you would expect it to explode, with total drama. But the music is deep, and very melodic.”
Writing sessions for the album took place in the studio of Tel Aviv musician-producer Yuvi Havkin – also known as Rejoicer - who contributed to three of the pieces on Big Vicious’s debut. This communal approach to creating was a new departure for Avishai Cohen, who had not previously written together with other musicians. “It’s made a huge difference, having everybody involved in the writing. There was a lot of discussion about what we wanted the music to be and how it should sound. Rejoicer was part of the process, too, when everyone was bringing in ideas. The Indian scale that underpins the tune ‘Fractals’ came from him, and ‘Teno Neno’ takes off from a comment of his, as well. He was just with us, the whole time we were writing.”
A wide-open approach to cover versions is also integral to the Vicious vision. “We played a lot of covers when we started out. Especially music from the 1990s because that resonates with our generation, the things we listened to at school. But Massive Attack’s ‘Teardrop’ is one we never get tired of. It’s a piece you can stay in forever – every element in it is so complete and at the same time so simple.” The Big Vicious version moves the trumpet into a role analogous to a lead singer’s. This is part of the group’s stylistic identity, explored in their own pieces, too. Avishai says, “In this band, it’s not really about the solos. That’s not the goal or aesthetic here. It’s really about how to make a song, even though no one sings. That’s the difference, to me, to my other work.”
Intense monitoring of live recordings preceded the studio work. Ziv Ravitz: “In jazz bands you don’t really do that. You play the concert and whatever happened, happened. But we would sit down in the van together and listen many times to each show. Saying: let’s tweak this part, let’s look again at this…”. “It was like analysing soccer games every night,” says Avishai. “It was great. Fine tuning the music, zooming in on the pieces, finding little details to improve.”
If this reflects “more of a pop mentality” as Ziv Ravitz suggests, the recording in Studios La Buissonne in the South of France with Manfred Eicher producing, was characteristically improvisational. Avishai: “We may have worked on the music for months, but finally the vibe on the album is our vibe on those three days of recording. It still feels like jazz in that way.”
Jonathan Albalak: “Manfred’s contribution changed a lot. He’d say something and it could change the essence of a piece we’d been playing for two years, and we’d get to explore a new taste of it.”
Avishai: “We have a mutual trust. He trusts me that I’m bringing in the right thing, and I trust that he is with us in the concept, and the only question is: what makes the music resonate?”
Avishai Cohen, trumpet, effects, synthesizer
Uzi Ramirez, guitar
Yonatan Albalak, guitar, bass
Aviv Cohen, drums
Ziv Ravitz, drums, live sampling
For four years running, Cohen has been voted a Rising Star-Trumpet in the DownBeat Critics Poll. Along with leading his Triveni trio with Omer Avital and Nasheet Waits, thetrumpeter was a member of the SF Jazz Collective for six years. He also records and tours the world with The 3 Cohens Sextet, the hit family band with his sister, clarinetist-saxophonist Anat, and brother, saxophonist Yuval. Declared All About Jazz: “To the ranks of the Heaths of Philadelphia, the Joneses of Detroit and the Marsalises of New Orleans, fans can now add the 3 Cohens of Tel Aviv.”
The trumpeter began performing in public in 1988 at age 10, playing his first solos with a big band and eventually touring with the Young Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra to perform under the likes of maestros Zubin Mehta, Kurt Masur and Kent Nagano. Having worked with Israeli folk and pop artists in his native country and appeared on television early on, Cohen arrived as an experienced professional musician when he took up a full scholarship at Berklee College of Music in Boston. In 1997, the young musician established an international reputation by placing third in the Thelonious Monk Jazz Trumpet Competition. Avishai came of age as a jazz player as part of the fertile scene at the club Smalls in New York’s West Village.
Cohen first recorded for ECM as part of saxophonist Mark Turner’s quartet on Lathe of Heaven, released in September 2014. The trumpeter has performed at the Village Vanguard and beyond with Turner, as well as widely in a band led by pianist Kenny Werner. Cohen has played often in the Mingus Big Band and Mingus Dynasty ensemble, and he has lent his horn to recordings by Anat Cohen, Yuval Cohen and keyboardist Jason Lindner, along with collaborating on stage and in the studio with French-Israeli pop singer Keren Ann. In addition to performing, Cohen was named the Artistic Director of the International Jerusalem Festival in 2015.
“Cohen is a multicultural jazz musician, among whose ancestors is Miles Davis. Like Davis, he can make the trumpet a vehicle for uttering the most poignant human cries.” – Ben Ratliff, The New York Times