Avishai Cohen – Big Vicious
(ECM 083 6025. CD review by Nick Davies)
It’s not often a record brings you to a complete standstill. Well, the latest release from trumpeter Avishai Cohen, does just that for sheer brilliance. Cohen formed the band Big Vicious when he relocated back to his native Israel from the United States six years ago. His aim was to unite players who could shape the music from the ground up with a view to writing new material with them
The players are all from diverse musical backgrounds but all with their roots firmly established in jazz, according to Cohen: “We’re all coming from jazz but some of some of us left it earlier. Everyone’s bringing in their backgrounds and that becomes the mood of the band.” In this album, it is clear that that there are many different types of musical influences, from electronica, to ambient, to psychedelia with an essence of trip hop.
The line-up of the band sees Cohen on trumpet, Uzi Ramirez on guitar, Yonatan Albalak, on electric bass, Aviv Cohen on drums and Ziv Ravitz on drums and live sampling. Any band that uses live sampling will be moving towards the jazz infused trip hop/hip hop. However, in essence, this is a guitar-based band with a trumpeter. It’s essentially jazz integrated with other elements which add to its sparkle.
From the first track to the last, it entices the listener who’s left craving more. At times, very cinematic, big and meaty and, later, particularly subtle and easy on the ear. The driving force behind each little gem is Cohen’s trumpet, superbly supported by the band.
All songs, apart from two, are written by Cohen and band: Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata and Teardrop, by Massive Attack. From the outset, you can hear elements similar to Portishead and Massive Attack’s style, so it was interesting to see one of theirs appearing on the album. The latter, despite being covers, are delivered in a way that is true to the original but with subtle nuances to set them apart.
The rest of the album is full of powerhouse explosions like King Kutner, where the driving beat pushes it to the edge of rock before Cohen’s trumpet swiftly manoeuvres it back to jazz.
Overall, an excellent album, each song setting up the next and none failing to deliver on quality. Definitely worth a listen.
LINK: Interview from April 2020 – In Lockdown with trumpeter Avishai Cohen