Jazzman trumpets his new tour in style

Avishai Cohen Triveni

Jazz House
February 10

If you were wondering why you were the only handsome person on the streets of the capital this past Monday, I might have an explanation for you. Most of the middle-aged, well-groomed Copenhageners were standing in line – with dignified patience of course – to hand in their cultured coats at the Jazzhouse’s garderobe.

Over-garments are superfluous when you’re packed in like sardines in a really cosy tin box with good acoustics and high energy-density. They don’t sell that stuff in supermarkets – you have to come to the Jazzhouse to satisfy your improvisational music cravings.

And this show, like all the others so far at the Vinterjazz Festival, saw the underground venue (literally, not so much figuratively) filled to the brim with enthusiasts of the versatile genre.

Avishai Cohen – a rising star in modern jazz who confusingly shares his name with another (slightly more famous) Israeli jazz musician – was visibly thrilled to kick off his new tour with such a substantial audience. “Making the effort to come out and support live music is not taken for granted,” he told us. The man knows how to flatter an audience.

The New York City-based trumpet player, composer and bandleader has played in so many ensembles most journalists have lost count, and he is currently touring in a trio called Triveni – a Sanskrit word meaning ‘the place where three sacred rivers meet’.

By his side is the drummer Nasheer Watts, who is not only the son of percussion legend Freddie Watts but a stunning musician in his own right, and the lesser known but not lesser bassist Reiner Elizarde. ‘Awe’ was both the sense permeating and the sound emanating from the audience on hearing that Nasheer and Reiner had met for the first time that day. The quality of their synchronisation lends the idea of being a good listener a whole new dimension.

Along with his own compositions, Cohen also played Frank Foster’s ‘Shiny Stockings’ and Miles Davis’s ‘Portrait’, though with a slight variation on the title. The shocking though far from singular story of Marius – the young giraffe that was killed, publicly dissected and fed to lions at Copenhagen Zoo this week – did not escape Cohen, who dedicated the song to him, calling it ‘Portrait of a Giraffe’.

We will never find out if Marius liked jazz, but at least it is heartening to know that jazz stays true to its cultural roots in giving a voice to all those who feel marginalised by the status quo.