In September 2021, Israeli trumpeter Avishai Cohen went into the studio at La Buissonne in France to record his fifth album for the Munich-based ECM Records, after “Into The Silence” (2016), “Cross My Palm With Silver” (2017), “Playing The Room”, a duo album with pianist Yonathan Avishai (2019), and “Big Vicious” (2020). This fifth one turned out to be “Naked Truth”, to be released on February 25th. Recorded with pianist Yonathan Avishai, bassist Barak Mori, and drummer Ziv Ravitz, this music is indeed naked. Stripped down. Bare. Like a 35-minute meditation. In fact, Avishai says that the album is the result of a “two-year meditation. I had been sitting with the main motif of Naked Truth since the start of Covid.” And that motif are eight notes at the beginning of part two of the set, with little hints, repetitions, and variations throughout the album making this really hard to resist.
There is a tiny little snippet at the beginning of “Part 7” which reminds me of a theme from a standard off the Great American Songbook, something like “My One And Only Love” mixed with “And I Love Her”. Other than that, this set is extremely focussed, short on solos which I really appreciate, and busy with inadvertently creating free-flowing cadences, and building an overall mythical, magical atmosphere. After just one rehearsal, the group decided on what to play and, more important in this case, what not to play. The drum work of Ziv is almost tender, except maybe for some moments on “Part 8”. Yonathan’s piano playing is incredibly poignant and full of emotion and wit, and Barak laying down the foundation, sometimes vaguely in there, but always connecting.
“Part 3” has these amazingly enticing moments of sensitivity, matched only in mood and sentiment by the most beautiful Metheny/Mays moments, with Avishai crying, weeping, and yearning, switching from muted to open, very clear playing. On the longest track, “Part 4”, we are reminded once again of the storytelling quality of Avishai’s playing. The collaborative group sound is subtly intuitive and moving. Avishai turns to a recitation on the album’s final track. A poem by Zelda Schneurson Mishkovsky called “Departure”, mostly about surrender and abandonment, is a fitting finale to this beautiful outcome.
A 180g vinyl version will be available in the fall.