The Upshot: Israeli trumpeter taking inspiration from political turmoil still excels in pure tones and atmospheric arrangements.
BY MICHAEL TOLAND
Into the Silence, the ECM debut by trumpeter Avishai Cohen, was a gorgeous rumination on life and death following the death of the composer’s father. Cross My Palm With Silver, the Tel Aviv native’s quick follow-up, doesn’t stint on the pure tones and atmospheric arrangements of its elder sibling, but the record has a more restless, energized flavor. Perhaps that’s due to the inspiration of political turmoil – you can’t be from Israel and not have social and political conflict on your mind more often than not.
That’s not to say Cohen ever gets preachy – this is instrumental jazz, after all. But it’s hard not to miss the uncertainty of “Will I Die, Miss, Will I Die,” or the agitation of “Shoot Me in the Leg,” even if you don’t know to what specific situations they refer. Those tracks, the LP’s longest, also feature some of Cohen’s most aggressive playing – he’s not Dizzy Gillespie, but he knows when it’s time to belt instead of croon. Of course, as he proved on Silence, he’s exceptional at the latter, and he reiterates that here via the mournful “340 Down” and the lovely “Theme For Jimmy Greene” (presumably about the jazz saxophonist). “50 Years and Counting” contrasts a fairly traditional sense of swing with discordant trumpet licks, feeling at once comfortable and disturbed.
In general, Cohen displays richer, more varied writing chops on Cross My Palm With Silver, and the use of his road band (kudos especially to the exceptional comping of pianist Yonathan Avishai) helps the tunes keep to a singular identity, regardless of tempo or style.
DOWNLOAD: “Shoot Me in the Leg,” “Will I Die, Miss, Will I Die,” “50 Years and Counting”