Seeking truth and freedom with a jazz trumpet


Avishai Cohen is more than a trumpeter. More than a composer. He’s a seeker.

Cohen says he and the musicians who share the stage with him must all have the same mindset. “We must all have the state of mind that we are out there for the search. We’re not out there to be comfortable. We’re not out there to please anyone. Not even to please ourselves. But we’re on a certain journey, searching for the now, for the truth — creating. It’s the search for freedom, in a way.

“That’s a very tricky search. And it doesn’t stop. There’s never going to be an ending to that. And it has to be an honest search. You have to be really up for it and overcome certain difficulties that can stand in the way. You have to choose at a certain moment to be staying honest or playing something that you know will be an audience-pleaser, that the audience is going to love. What is going to be your choice?”

With the incredible expressiveness and sensitivity of his playing, his purity of tone, as well as the adventurousness in his music, Cohen pleases audiences nonetheless. Cohen and his quartet members — pianist Gadi Lehavi, bassist Barak Mori and drummer Marcus Gilmore — will perform at Palo Alto’s Oshman Family JCC on Monday, Sept. 18.

We can hear in his evocative playing that he is an artist who’s digging deep. In his composing, Cohen draws on profoundly affecting elements from his own life and from the world situation. On last year’s award-winning and intensely personal “Into The Silence” album, he was grappling with the death of his father. For the new, impressionistic “Cross My Palm with Silver,” Cohen was musically responding to tragedies ranging from the Syrian crisis and drowning African refugees to the shootings in Sandy Hook.

Cohen says what he writes about isn’t a conscious decision. “I don’t think of a concept and write. I first just write and see what is it that I’m dealing with. I write about whatever is in my heart, my head, my body, everywhere, wherever it’s coming from. And then I put a context to it.”

It’s very possible his audience will not even be aware of the inner turmoil that led Cohen to his composing choices.

“I don’t explain that I wrote the piece when my father was dying and blah, blah, blah, because it should not interest them. …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment

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