This is a musician I’ve never seen perform in concert, but after listening to this disc, that is going to have to change. Bassist Avishai Cohen’s band features music with complex but accessible melodies, intriguing changes in tempo and mood, along with some spectacular soloing by the likes of Jimmy Greene (sax) and Diego Urcola (Trumpet). Except for the Middle Eastern contexted “Caravan”, all of the songs are composed by Cohen, and feature a fascinating mix of Blues and Bedouin. “Smash” features some exotic and wild soloing on Greene’s soprano, but Sam Barsh’s keyboards and Cohen’s electric bass steer it around like a Yemenite festival. The hard driving and hypnotic “Etude” has the front line of Greene and Urcola stampeding through an intoxicating Sephardic rhythm that explodes in ecstasy towards the end, almost in relief. Cohen’s bass work, be it electric or acoustic, as on the (literally) blistering “Feediop” is astonishing in technique, yet with a warm glow, like the sun bouncing off the sand in the Negev desert. This is music that is sophisticated, inspiring and a great direction for jazz, even if it is read from right to left!
-George W. Harris jazzweekly.com
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