Many musicians dream of making a record with a symphony orchestra, but few can afford to make it a reality. Thanks to an extraordinary ability to compose melodies that take root in his listeners’ minds and because he has patiently performed these compositions on stage to the point where they are practically a part of him, Avishai Cohen was well-positioned to execute such an ambition. Two Roses (Friday April 16th, 2021, NAÏVE / BELIEVE) is the result of a long process, which began in 2013 when Cohen recorded his album Almah, with his trio and a small chamber ensemble of four string instruments and an oboe.
Cohen’s music is an intricate tapestry of global and historical influence. A master of Afro-Caribbean music, Cohen has absorbed its complexity. Equally affected by the melodies of Israeli folklore, and the complexity of their Sephardi, Ashkenazi or Yemeni heritages, he reintroduced the traditional Ladino “Morenika,” as well as popular tunes from his native country, such as “Two Roses”, which lends its title to this album. The title itself works as a metaphor for the album’s adept fusion of jazz, and the symphonic world. Cohen, a fan of jazz standards, which he likes to make his own through very personal arrangements — in this recording, with a version of “Nature Boy” — nevertheless remains a composer of themes in his own right. Many of his own “classics” take their cues from North Africa, the Middle East, Slavic countries and Russia.