01 Feb

Avishai Cohen Interview

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Avishai Cohen appears as the godfather of Israeli jazz. This small country has produced amazing jazz musicians lately  (Shai Maestro. Omer Klein, Eli Degibri, Omer Avital, the 3 Cohen, Gilad Hekselman ...). Cohen has been cited as "undoubtedly the most successful" of Israel's jazz exports by The Jerusalem Post, a "jazz visionary of global proportions" by Down Beat, one of the 100 Most Influential Bass Players of the 20th Century by Bass Player magazine, and "a great composer" and "a genius musician" by Chick Corea himself. He accept to answer few questions before is performance in Athens.

You were born in Israel, you have lived in the U.S.,  but your family roots were found  in Spain, Greece and Poland -  What effect has this  multicultural  background on  your music?
Israel has always been influenced by a great mix of culture; Moroccan, Greek, Turkish, Bulgarian, Spanish, Eastern European Nations and also the descendants of Jewish people from many other different places.
These influences exist in the music, language and in the good food, and everyone absorbs these things in different ways which allows for a lot of creativity.

You began as a pianist and  then start with the bass. What or who make you change ?
At the age of 9 I started with messing around on the piano. I was inspired by Jaco Pastorius when I first heard his music, and I picked up the electric bass at  age14, it was later on that I started learning the double bass.I was always was going to move to the acoustic upright bass I guess , but I came to it late at around the age of  20.  I guess then  I found the confidence to take on the challenge and embrace  this unique instrument with a great teacher in Israel .The Bass  has been my closest musical partner ever since. I explored and developed my own way of playing and performing with it over the years, it's a big part of my message as a leader, it's a blessing !

Which  musicians had or have a great influence on you, and why ?
I  listen and have explored  Bach, and classical music in general for many years , he is a big inspiration to me and many others but I also love Stevie Wonder, Led Zeppelin and of course  Charles Mingus and Jaco Pastorius who is my biggest inspiration from my early years on the bass , daily  I love  to listen to all kinds of music, pop, rock , hip hop and  many styles inspire me all the time.

With all those people you have worked with, which one do you believe is closer to you musically?
Chick (Corea) all the way and my young musician partners over the years , touring and performing, with the young talents I have and continue to perform and work with, which  are also BIG influences and an inspiration , I am learning all the time from them.
How would you characterize your music?
There is a strong element of jazz in my music but I have opened myself up to so many different sounds from a very young age ,you can also hear in my music :afro –Caribbean rhythms, Sephardic sounds, Israeli folk songs and pop to name a few.  For me jazz today is for everyone and I see myself as a musician first.

What's the most memorable concert you've done?
I’ve had the opportunity to perform in many wonderful venues, from small clubs to larger concert halls and all kind of outdoor festivals. The amphitheater  in Jazz à Vienne, France near to Lyon  is very impressive to me, may be my NO 1 and then many others in nature , overlooking the ocean, and also many impressive classical halls.  I will return to Jazz a’ Vienne again this summer so looking forward as always ..

Could you tell us a few words about your performance in Athens?
I will be performing with my trio, on piano Omri Mor and drums Noam David , unique and brilliant  musicians ,with whom I perform often , we will be playing some tunes from my previous albums and some new tunes as well.

What advice would you give a young musician?
Keep believing in yourself and make sure you are the best in what you do! Practice regularly  with a daily routine …  and keep doing it !

What's the best advice anyone ever gave you?
There are 3 advises in one I can give to a musician / composer , ‘The most important thing in music is , Composition, Composition, Composition. ‘

What one song would work as the soundtrack to your life?
I will let you know in years to come….

What are your plan for the next months?
We are just kicking off our first tour of this year in Athens , so we will continue to tour with my trio, but also with my new ‘1970’ band,  last October we released my new album ‘1970’ on Sony Masterworks, so we will continue to support and tour throughout 2018.
Also I will be performing  with classical orchestra’s to present ‘An evening with Avishai Cohen ‘ so a full year of lovely  concerts are planned for the coming months, and really looking forward to touring again all the projects and music to my fans and new show goers.

Interview February 2018 -  Patricia Graire

Last modified on Monday, 05 February 2018 12:06
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