Avishai_cohen-unity_span3
December 2001

Avishai Cohen with the International Vamp Band
Unity
Stretch

An aptly named sextet-three musicians from Israel, the others from Argentina, Mexico and Cuba, and they play lots of uneventful vamps. The preponderance of one-chord tunes, peppy Latin rhythms and Cohen's history of playing bass with Chick Corea's groups might suggest this album is a Corea offshoot. To the contrary, Cohen is only a modestly melodic composer and his arrangements are fussy, with long static sections and occasional overdubbed group vocals. This time the leader plays piano, mostly in the Latin-band rhythm section; he is also the principal soloist, improvising rhythmic figures and some overdubbed electric bass. Several of the songs are in odd meters, yet Cohen's accompaniments, bassist Yagil Baras' downbeats and Antonio Sanchez's bright, eighth-note-centered drumming make most of the album at least sound Latin-there is, though, the one nonoriginal, the ballad "A Child Is Born."

Good musicians make this music lively. Horn solos are mostly brief, with trumpeter Diego Urcola most prominent; he plays a post-Tom Harrell flugelhorn solo in the ballad "Float" and in a subdued Latin-band style elsewhere. Saxophonist Yosvany Terry also reflects Latin-band bravura, while trombonist Avi Lebovich invents attractive jazz phrases. Instead of solos, there are horn chases in "To the Love" and "Vamp"; in the latter, the players toss motives around and develop them nicely.

Originally published in December 2001
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