In the 2019 DownBeat Critics Poll, Avishai Cohen did not make the top 20 on his instrument. Yet very few living trumpet players have made as many excellent records as Cohen.
Playing the Room strips a Cohen ensemble to the minimum, a duo, which provides maximum focus on his specific creative resources. They begin with his trumpet sound. It is brilliantly brassy yet human as breath, and uncommonly capable of nuanced emotional expression. The stark duo format also highlights a special musical bond. Cohen has been playing with pianist Yonathan Avishai since they were teenagers in Tel Aviv. In the open spaces between Cohen’s striking lines, Avishai adds spare, graceful asides that complete Cohen’s thoughts. It’s postmodern chamber music.