Naked Truth Avishai Cohen

Cover Naked Truth

Album info



Label: ECM Records

Genre: Jazz

Subgenre: Contemporary Jazz

Artist: Avishai Cohen

Album including Album cover Booklet (PDF)

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  • 1Naked Truth (Pt. 1)01:51
  • 2Naked Truth (Pt. 2)05:06
  • 3Naked Truth (Pt. 3)05:49
  • 4Naked Truth (Pt. 4)07:37
  • 5Naked Truth (Pt. 5)02:06
  • 6Naked Truth (Pt. 6)00:50
  • 7Naked Truth (Pt. 7)02:47
  • 8Naked Truth (Pt. 8)04:29
  • 9Naked Truth: Departure04:28
  • Total Runtime35:03

Info for Naked Truth

There is a searching, yearning quality to Naked Truth, and a raw beauty and vulnerability in Avishai Cohen’s trumpet sound throughout. Very much music-of-the moment, found and shaped in the course of a remarkable recording session in the South of France, Naked Truth takes the form of an extemporaneous suite. For most of its length the Israeli trumpeter painstakingly leads the way, closely shadowed by his long-time comrades – pianist Yonathan Avishai, bassist Barak Mori and drummer Ziv Ravitz - who share an intuitive understanding, hyper alert to the music’s subtly-changing emphases. At the album’s conclusion, Cohen recites “Departure”, a poem by Zelda Schneurson Mishkovsky, whose themes of renunciation, acceptance and letting go seem optimally-attuned to the mood of the music.

Avishai describes the album as the outcome of a “two-year meditation. I had been sitting with the main motif of Naked Truth since the start of Covid. The eight note motif you hear at the start of Part II was the beginning of the whole process. I wouldn’t say the motif has been ‘haunting’ me exactly, but it’s been accompanying me through this whole period and everything that I came to assemble for the album revolved around those eight notes and all the possibilities within them.

“And as I explored that, a lot of other questions were coming up, as I asked myself what do I want to say in the music, what do I need to say. And the process also came to reflect a personal, emotional journey.” There were two parallel stories unfolding, he elaborates, the search for the compositional framework, and something more existential.

“With earlier albums, like Into The Silence, the music was very much about the compositions. But with this one, the melodies somehow didn’t want to be written down before the recording. And at the same time, the story is definitely not about the solos…”

Cohen had just one rehearsal and one “mini-concert” with Yonathan Avishai and Barak Mori prior to the session at Studios La Buissonne. “The discussion about what to play and what not to play evolved out of that.” As one reference point, Avishai asked his comrades to listen to recordings of bansuri flute master Harisprasad Chaurasia, “who to me conveys so well the ability to play everything and also to play nothing except the essential.” Avishai also discussed trimming percussive details to a minimum with drummer Ziv Ravitz, more than a matter of simply playing less, this was a call to enter the heightened emotional tone and focus of the music (see Part IV here).

With everything stripped back to emphasize the soul-baring spirit of Naked Truth, small instrumental details have a large impact. When Avishai finally switches from crespuscular walking-on-eggshells muted trumpet to open horn playing in Part III, for instance, it is as if a searchlight is suddenly illuminating the music…

“Departure”, a poem by Israeli writer Zelda Schneurson Mishkovsky (1914.1984), is a piece set to music and premiered by Avishai in a project with Danilo Pérez and Chris Potter and subsequently explored further in other Cohen group contexts. “When I first read that poem I was blown away by it.” With its reflections on mortality and its almost Buddhistic balancing (Zelda was Orthodox Jewish) of non-attachment and gratitude and wonder it makes an apt conclusion for Naked Truth. In the present realization, a logical ending, musically, too.

Naked Truth was recorded at Studios La Buissonne in Pernes-les-Fontaines, in September 2021, and produced by Manfred Eicher.

Avishai Cohen, trumpet
Yonathan Avishai, piano
Barak Mori, double bass
Ziv Ravitz, drums

Avishai Cohen
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

Booklet for Naked Truth

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