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(photo credit: Courtesy)
The Israeli jazz scene has been in full swing (as it were) for many years, but its most famous exponent, bassist/composer Avishai Cohen, rarely performs on his own turf. A rare chance to see him with his internationally-touring trio presents itself this weekend, with one show tonight at Hama'abada in Jerusalem and two shows on both Friday and Saturday nights at the Zappa Club in Tel Aviv.
Cohen, a native of Jerusalem, studied piano and bass in Israel before moving to New York in 1992, where he quickly made a name for himself as a hard-working, innovative player. In 1996, he was pegged by legendary jazz pianist Chick Corea to be part of his new ensemble, a move that brought Cohen to international prominence.
Cohen toured and recorded with Corea until 2003, while at the same time establishing his own voice as a bandleader and composer. Cohen has recorded eight albums of his own compositions, and with his longstanding piano based trio, has toured the world numerous times. Although he relocated to Israel several years ago, he performs mostly in Europe.
Known for his physical playing style and emotional connection to the audience, Cohen has been consistently lauded in the music press wherever he performs. His music is progressive but accessible, mixing middle-eastern motifs and odd-time signatures with jazz harmonic concepts.
Cohen's shows in Israel are scheduled right before an intensive European touring schedule in support of his recently released CD/DVD combo, "As Is...Live at The Blue Note," which showcases his deep rapport with long-time collaborators, drummer Mark Guiliana and pianist Sam Barsh.
Barsh has since been replaced in Cohen's trio by fellow Israeli Shai Maestro, a 20-year-old piano virtuoso who has been impressing audiences since he joined the ensemble last year.
Cohen will perform tonight at Hama'abada, 28 Hebron Road in Jerusalem at 9:30 p.m. Tickets: 02-629-2000/1. Friday, October 12 and Saturday, October 13 at the Zappa Club, 24 Rehov Raul Wallenberg, Ziv Towers, Tel Aviv. Shows at 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. both nights. Tickets: Tel: 03-649-9550.