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Avishai Cohen's Triveni - 'Dark Nights'

Ben Gray
Staff Writer

Triveni's third album, Dark Nights is (it won't surprise you, based on the album title) a nighttime album. With just a few exceptions, the tunes on here are taken at a very slow tempo, creating a moody atmosphere full of the great individual playing and interplay among Avishai Cohen, Omer Avital, and Nasheet Waits that you would expect based on their previous two albums together. That said, Dark Nights has a number of new twists that very much set this apart from Introducing Triveni and Triveni II.

The first new twist is the presence of electronic effects and overdubs from Avishai Cohen's trumpet. These first appear on the opening track, "Dark Nights, Darker Days", to great effect. This is not studio trickery for its own sake, as the overdubbed trumpet adds much to the band's sound, effectively creating a quartet (rather than a trio plus some studio additions) by Avishai's incredible ability to play a duet with himself. The overdubs can range from atmospheric stuff to counterpoints to an electric guitar-like tone (often all within the same song). These overdubs are probably the biggest change from the sound on the first two Triveni albums, but this album is also the first to feature any musicians from outside the trio of Cohen, Avital, and Waits. Avishai's sister, Anat Cohen, joins the trio on clarinet for "Betray" and "Old Soul," Gerald Clayton joins on the keyboard for "Old Soul" and "I Fall in Love Too Easily", and vocalist Keren Ann joins for "I Fall in Love Too Easily". Avishai's rapport with his sister has been well-documented, both while playing together as two-thirds of Three Cohens and when Anat was a guest with a different Triveni lineup at Newport Jazz Fest in 2011. That rapport serves them well on both tunes featuring Anat's clarinet. "Old Soul" is especially noteworthy as a great collaboration among the five musicians on this track. The sort of hazy feel, rhythmic shiftiness, and patient, glorious build on this track is excellent and a good indicator of the feel on much of Dark Nights.

Nasheet Waits' drumming on "Old Soul" and throughout the album is fantastic. It's something of a cliche, but a big part of what makes Waits' drumming so perfect here is what he doesn't play. While he is more than capable of getting a very big, busy sound from the drum kit, Waits often leaves lots of space in these slow tunes, creating a wide open groove for Cohen and Avital (and guests, on "Old Soul" and "Betray"). Similarly, Omer Avital gets plenty of space to stretch out and to contribute to the development of the album's tunes. He takes some particularly notable solos on "You in All Directions" and on "Shiny Stockings" (one of the two faster tunes on the album, along with "The OC"), and always lays down a deep groove that is so important with the lack of a chordal instrument in this trio. Despite this being billed as Avishai Cohen's Triveni on the album cover, Cohen, Avital, and Waits all receive equal portions of the spotlight here, and the band's sound has developed together through their individual styles.

Like the first two Triveni albums, Dark Nights was recorded without any rehearsal from the band. The liner notes say that "the trio came together in the studio in Brooklyn without having toured the music or even rehearsed it beforehand. With just a single day in the studio...Omar, Nasheet and I set the rule of the day: ‘No more than two takes per song.'" While that spontaneous approach has led to some thrilling music here and on the previous two Triveni albums, you can't but wonder how this band could develop if it was given the chance to play together more often, whether in a live or studio setting, given how exciting a sound they have developed together. These tunes have been developing, however, in live shows featuring different line-ups. "You in All Directions," for instance, was recently played at the North Sea Jazz Fest in July 2014 with Avishai Cohen and Nasheet Waits, plus Yoni Zelnick on bass.

Dark Nights is available October 28 in the United States. The band will be touring internationally ahead of the release (often with a slightly different lineup from the trio on the album). In addition, Avishai Cohen can be heard with Mark Turner's Quartet and the SFJAZZ Collective.

Triveni Tour Dates:
September 11 - Tokyo, Japan
September 12 - Shizuoka City, Japan
September 13 - Kanazawa, Japan
October 12 - Paris, France
December 5 - Budapest, Hungary
December 8 - Helsinki, Finland
December 10 - London, UK
December 11-13 - Paris, France

Dark Nights Track list:
Dark Nights, Darker Days
You in All Directions
Goodbye Pork Pie Hat
The OC
Shiny Stockings
Lush Life
Old Soul
I Fall in Love Too Easily

Ben Gray is a listener with a lot of ideas about this music around in his head.