Avishai Cohen’s Triveni: Dark Nights

For the third Triveni album, trumpeter Avishai Cohen departs from the norm by adding electronic overdubs and/or guest artists on four of the 10 songs. He also promotes concentrated spontaneity by presenting the material to his triomates Omer Avital (bass) and Nasheet Waits (drums) with no prior touring, no rehearsal and a two-take limit to generate a finished track.

Every gambit was successful. By restricting his electronic trumpet effects primarily to his own solos on his own compositions (and dubbing them in without first hearing the song), Cohen gilds his personal conceptions with a rock-ish tinge without otherwise infringing on the identity of the ensemble. As for the guest stars, one is a top-drawer clarinet virtuoso and blood relative (Anat Cohen) and another is a sensitive pianist (Gerald Clayton) with a poignant touch tailor-made for a song about Cohen’s son (“Old Soul”). A third, Keren Ann, sounds angelic singing a fragile cool-jazz classic (“I Fall in Love Too Easily”). Demanding instant familiarization from the rhythm section also pays off, as Avital and Waits play with a restraint, especially on the six Cohen originals, that enhances the Dark Nights ambiance of slower tempos and shaded hues.

Undergirding these (muted) bells and whistles is the razor-sharp technique, thorough scholarship and sincere love of tradition that have always been the core virtues of Triveni. The heavy sway of Mingus’ “Goodbye Pork Pie Hat” and the impressions of indolence sketched by Strayhorn’s “Lush Life” depict two vastly different types of melancholy, and the trio is valiantly faithful to both. They are equally loyal to Frank Foster’s snappy gift to the Count Basie band, “Shiny Stockings,” executed with deft swing. Last but hardly least, Cohen’s deep affection and affinity for the music of Ornette Coleman continues with his knowledgeable tribute, “The OC,” that captures the piquant efficiency and gusty rhythms associated with the harmolodic sage, right down to the simmering snare rolls Waits delivers à la Billy Higgins.