Since the late ’90s, when Avishai Cohen broke through with his genre-defying solo debut, Adama, and his inspired playing with Chick Corea’s Origin sextet, the Israeli-born bassist has leavened his jazz with classical strains and Middle Eastern folk textures. Those elements remain intact on From Darkness, his third recording with trio mates Nitai Hershkovits on piano and drummer Daniel Dor. It’s another set of originals plus a sole standard, demonstrating Cohen’s singular approach as a composer and his remarkable agility as an instrumentalist.
The title track features Cohen, on fretless electric bass, sharing unison lines and trading phrases with Hershkovits, digging into a fusion groove with Dor, and playing a speedy solo variously reminiscent of Jaco and Stanley Clarke. His warm, wild and wooly sound on upright comes to the fore on the color-shifting “Abie,” which begins with a solo piano figure before Cohen enters with contrapuntal lines. Later in the track, the leader plays unaccompanied runs that set up Latin-tinged rhythms.
These tunes offer a wide range of moods, too, from “Halelyah,” which alternates between an airy chill-lounge vibe and a neo-classical processional, to the gentle, lush “Ballad for an Unborn” and the dizzying rhythmic juxtapositions and unfettered upright soloing of “Amethyst.” Nostalgia is the theme sounded on a closing, gently swinging version of Charlie Chaplin’s “Smile,” with Cohen playing the melody and counter lines and leading the trio through some intriguing detours. Like everything else here, it heads off in unpredictable directions.