Review: Ethnics in jazz

24. April 2014
Monika Erdman

Transforming ethnic music to jazz is a very fragile and tough job, but Avishai Cohen – famous trumpeter from Israel –seems to have a gift. Supported by Andres Mustonen Jazzkvartett he played mostly his own compositions, which were usually based on Turkish and Jewish music. 

Cohen came to Tallinn only a day before the concert. That was the first and only time he practiced with eminent Estonian musicians. 

They began with fast and energetic song, Cohen played with a mute. It changed timbre and made the whole piece sound like underwater until it suddenly turned to abstract trance. After that meditative moment they cleverly combined main theme with short drum solos.  

I’ve never thought that overdrive guitar, violin and trumpet are such a great combination of instruments. The groove was provided by Taavo Remmel and Tanel Ruben, then spiced with guitar effects, Cohen showed his virtuosity playing incredible solo. The next piece they played transferred the audience to Istanbul, where dancing Turkish motives eventually came up with a splendid drum solo. 

Avishai Cohen grew up with musical siblings – his brother and sister are also musicians. They play a lot together and “Family” is a song he wrote for them. The main melody was divided into three segments. Taavo Remmel had a sentimental melodic bass solo. The whole piece was touching and breath-taking. You could just hear love and gratitude in every note.

It was incredibly hard to remain seated during next parts of the performance. The band played rhythmic pieces with ethnic melodies and all the musicians shined with fabulous solos. In the end of the concert they performed a song called “October 25th” written by Avishai Cohen. Jaak Sooäär made the atmosphere with scratching guitar sounds while rhythm section held the groove. The main melody was divided into two parts. The first one was played by trumpet, second by violin and guitar, making it sound like a dialog. 

The concert was recorded and transmitted by Estonian Classical Radio. Enjoy the tape here:


Avishai Cohen and Andres Mustonen Jazzkvartett

April 22 at the Marina Pavillion


Avishai Cohen (trumpet)

Andres Mustonen (violin)

Jaak Sooäär (guitar)

Taavo Remmel (double bass)

Tanel Ruben (drums)