Bassist Cohen Continues His Groove on 'Disturbed'
Avishai Cohen Trio (Razdaz)
Out of four
Bassist Avishai Cohen has the ability to make a trio sound different than it normally does. He does the same thing with jazz itself. Oh, his music is jazz in every way. It is built around improvisation and the rhythms that give it that groove. But it never has an ordinary sound, and that is why "Gently Disturbed" gets such high marks, It doesn't present anything of a genre-shattering nature, but it is consistently energetic and fresh. "Chutzpann," for instance, is built around stuttering, shifting melodic lines that sometimes are stated in unison between Cohen and pianist Shai Maestro. Nine of the 11 tunes are originals by Cohen or other members of the band; the other two are traditional songs given a Cohen flavor. They all have a sound that is far removed from standard jazz "The Ever Evolving Etude" is just that: a melodic study that is presented quickly on piano and then steadily grows, driven largely by Cohen's bass. "Variations in G Minor" sounds like something J.S. Bach would have written after a night at the Blue Note. Cohen and his bands never disappoint.
-- Bob Karlovits
Frank Macchia and the Prague Orchestra (Cacophony)
Frank Macchia illustrates on "Landscapes" how the saxophone easily could have a bigger role with a large orchestra. The tenor player teams up with an ensemble named the Prague Orchestra to present a collection of works dominated by his six-movement "Landscapes" suite. The point should be made quickly that this is not a jazz album. It will be marketed to jazz fans because of the style of his composition and the sax, of course. But it really is a display of Macchia's compositions and arrangements. The "Landscapes" suite is pleasant, pretty and well played by the soloist and the ensemble. It consists of melodic looks at landscapes such as "Golden Fields" and "River Rapids." The other six pieces are contemporary looks as such songs as "Deep River" and "Shenandoah." It is a pleasant, well performed concert-type offering.
-- Bob Karlovits
Aimee Mann (SuperEgo)
The cartoon figure on the cover of "@#%&*! Smilers" is wearing an upside-down grin, with his tongue out to boot. Not surprising, because Aimee Mann has never been one to make excessively happy music. Sometimes, her tendency toward the dark side can make Mann too much of a bitter pill to swallow. Here though, the adult- alternative crush object lets enough light in on a loosely linked set of songs about emotional desperadoes that are built on old analog keyboard sounds and strummed acoustic guitars. Stronger than its boxing-themed 2005 predecessor "The Forgotten Arm," Smilers doesn't sugarcoat a thing -- "So you roll on, with the best you can/ Getting loaded, watching CNN," she sings in "31 Today. …