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Jazz Trumpeter Avishai Cohen Journeys 'Into the Silence' in New Album

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Growing up in Israel, jazz trumpeter Avishai Cohen was surrounded by music.

"My dad was a jazz lover," says Cohen. "We used to listen at home to artists like Frank Sinatra, Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald." But it wasn't just jazz on the airwaves in the household. "He played a lot of radio as well, so a lot of classical music. There was always music...always five different radios [on] in the house, wherever you walked."

His father made sure to enroll Cohen and his siblings into music lessons at the conservatory growing up, and encouraged him to pursue a musician’s life. Then a couple years ago, his father passed away.

Cohen’s latest album, Into the Silence, musically documents his journey coping with the loss of his father. The album is colored by Cohen’s feelings of loss, featuring a more introspective tone than his previous work. Still, while the songs are based in his sorrow, “in the same time, in a way, is a celebration,” says Cohen. “Because as I was sitting and thinking about him, and even now when I think about all the things that I miss about having him around, at the same time I’ll say, ‘Well, but I was so lucky to have had that.’”

Cohen has a central theory for both jazz and life: focus on the present. Cohen explains that while jazz can "condition you to adapt [to life]...sometimes is the other way around, sometimes life helps your music."

"When you're playing jazz...you can play the way that you're used to playing and try to get to the same places that you were yesterday or the week before, trying to re-create certain zones," he says. "Even if it’s very good, and you re-create it, it’s not going to be as fresh."

There's also an element of that spontaneity in this latest album. Both Cohen and the musicians performed the compositions for the first time when they were recording the album. Now the quartet is playing shows around Europe and the United States. Cohen hopes the music reaches people on a deeper level, even if they don’t know the album’s back story.

"The story, what's behind it, and my dad and everything, I never mention that at the shows," he says . "Some people maybe hear the interview and then they know, but whoever doesn't know, doesn't need to know, as long as they take any journey [out of the performance.]"

The Avishai Cohen Quartet will be playing at Live at the Back Room at Colectivo on Prospect as part of the Artist Series at the Pabst on Saturday April 30.

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Maayan Silver has been a reporter with WUWM’s News Team since 2018. She joined WUWM as a volunteer at Lake Effect in 2016, while she was a practicing criminal defense attorney.