Early this year, acclaimed Israeli bassist and composer Avishai Cohen announced the beginning of a new project, which he called Jazz Free (see here for my initial report). He started assembling a new band of musicians who – based on what he said – had little to do with standard Jazz. He also claimed that his new music is based on a new groovy sound, much different from his famous signature style which blends Middle-Eastern and eastern European traditions, and the new songs should manifest increased musical interactions among different genres and many new influences from other types of music. The outcome of the project is a new album, named 1970, which at the moment is scheduled for release on October 17th, 2017.
Well, a few hours ago the Israeli artist eventually published on Youtube the first single extracted from the new album, called “Motherless Child“…. and in spite of the anticipations that Avishai himself gave on the new direction of his music, I remained speechless. Now I understand the meaning of Jazz Free!
The song is a cover of the homonymous Negro spiritual (which dates back to 1870, in the era of slavery), and it’s executed as a funky tune with a strong groovy rhythm and groovy guitars. There are strings in the background that keep the melodicity of the original song, and also gospel choirs. The song is nice, vibrant, but completely different from the music we heard in his last releases. This is not a bad thing by itself, but certainly our beloved bassist would never have achieved the fame he has today with this kind of songs.
It’s too early to make a judgement on this experiment. I love those artists that try something different and want to embark into new challenges. And from time to time it may be necessary to move away from the main road to enrich your baggage of new experiences, so that you can be re-energized for when you come back to the most important route.