Avishai Cohen

Israeli jazz bassist, composer, singer and arranger (1970, Kabri)

Avishai Cohen draws from folklore as his main inspiration. As a free spirit in the jazz genre, he thrives on the freedom to let his creativity express itself, through a smaller band but with rotating musicians.

Avishai Cohen studied piano at the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance. He discovered Jaco Pastorius and Stanley Clarke and started studying bass with Michael Klinghoffer. He later improved his musical skills in a military orchestra in Tel Aviv. In 1992, he moved to New York City to train at The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music, where he met Adam Cruz and Brad Mehldau. In his student years, he played Latin jazz in clubs with a few bands and musicians, including Panamanian pianist Danilo Pérez, who offered him to join his trio. In 1999, he got a call from Chick Corea, asking him to perform in his bands. This exploration of the jazz world led him to meet several important jazz figures such as Bobby Mc Ferrin, Herbie Hancock, and Alicia Keys. In 1998, he recorded his first album: Adama, which incorporated elements of Middle-Eastern, Spanish and Latin music. The following year, Devotion was an album filled with Israeli and Arab influences.

In 2002, Cohen founded his own record label: Razdaz Recordz, which allowed him to have greater autonomy in terms of creation in artistic experimentation. The first album of this new label, called Lyla, was released in 2003, it included funk and pop elements among others. In 2005, the Avishai Cohen Trio performed together for the first time. Many different musicians sould then go on to be part of the trio over the years, and sometimes they would gather as a quintet: Mark Guiliana (drums), Sam Barsh (piano), Jimmy Green (saxophone), Shai Maestro (piano), Itamara Douari (percussionist), Karen Malka (singer), Amos Hoffman (oud). In 2008, Avishai Cohen was appointed artistic director of the Red Sea Jazz Festival in Eilat. Two years later, he signed a contract with Blue Note Records. In 2011, the album Seven seas was released, and Cohen started a tour together with Shai Maestro and Itamara Douari. In 2015, he recorded From darkness with pianist Nitai Hershkovits and drummer Daniel Dor.

Six landmark dates in the life of Avishai Cohen:

1992: Moved to New York City to study

1999: Met Chick Corea

2002: Cohen founded his own record label

2005: Founded the Avishai Cohen Trio

2008: Became artistic director of the Red Sea Jazz Festival 

2010: Signed a contract with Blue Note Records

Biography from Radio France’s document database, May 2015