Avishai Cohen Named Artistic Director For Red Sea Jazz Festival
Avishai Cohen, who was recently lauded in the Jazz Times review of his latest release, Gently Disturbed, as “among the elite bassists on the scene today,” has been officially named as the Artistic Director for the Red Sea Jazz Eilat Festival for 2009.
The announcement was made last week by festival producer Miki Gov and the board representing the Municipality of the city of Eilat in Tel Aviv. Cohen will succeed Dan Gottfried, who has served as Artistic Director since the festival’s inception.
Bassist/Composer/Band Leader Avishai Cohen, born April 20, 1970 in Israel, is a musician who has been called a jazz visionary of global proportions by DownBeat, and was declared one of the 100 Most Influential Bass Players of the 20th Century by Bass Player Magazine. Cohen is not only renowned around the world as an influential double bassist and profound composer, but also as a visionary bandleader that is following in the footsteps of Mingus, Dave Holland, Jaco Pastorius, Ray Brown, Charlie Haden, Stanley Clarke, and even Sting. In fact, every move Avishai Cohen makes routinely causes waves of critical praise. will perform on the first day of this year’s festival, which is being held August 25th through 28th, with his award-winning trio featuring pianist Shea Maestro and drummer Mark Guiliana. Immediately afterward, the band will visit the US for shows in New York and Boston.
Until late in 2002, Avishai also worked as a member of the Chick Corea New Trio (the bassist is prominently featured on the 10 DVD boxed set Chick Corea: Rendezvous In New York), and as accompanist to other jazz note-worthies, including Bobby McFerrin, Roy Hargrove, Herbie Hancock, Nnenna Freelon, Claudia Acuna, Paquito D’Rivera and many others. Avishai has become a first call musician in multiple genres. In 2003 he made a studio recording with pop-soul artist Alicia Keys, and has also performed concert works with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra and The Boston Pops Symphony.
2003 was a busy year for the bassist/composer. In addition to his playing and composing activities, Cohen decided to create his own record label, Razdaz Recordz. The label’s first release was Cohen’s Lyla, which was followed by At Home, Continuo and As Is…Live at the Blue Note. In addition to releasing Cohen’s recordings , Razdaz released the debut recording of drummer Mark Guiliana’s genre-busting band Heernt, Locked In A Basement. In 2008, in addition to Gently Disturbed, Razdaz is releasing I Forgot What You Taught Me from Cohen’s former pianist Sam Barsh, and Evolution from guitarist and oudist Amos Hoffman.
Mark Guiliana Modern Drummer Magazine – “Mark Guiliana may well be at the forefront of an exciting new style of drumming.” Mark Guiliana is going to be HUGE. Watch out.”-Kurt Stein, Fever Pitch Magazine. “Mark is truly one of the up-and-coming stars of today’s drumming scene – Modern Drummer Magazine. “Drummer Mark Guiliana plays with an authority that could suit jazz or thrash.” – Jazz Times.
27-year-old New Jersey native Mark Guiliana’s unique and un-compromised approach to playing the drums has earned him international acclaim both as a leader and a sideman. Mark discovered his passion and natural talent for drumming at age 15 when he began studying with the great Joe Bergamini. After spending his high school years getting involved in every musical environment he could find, ranging from local rock bands to big band swing, he decided to attend William Paterson University in New Jersey as a Jazz Studies major. This provided Mark with the chance to study under jazz greats such as John Riley and Kevin Norton, and to be surrounded by inspiring and diverse music. It was at WPU where Mark began to find his own voice both as a drummer and a composer.
As an outlet for his compositions, Mark created HEERNT, his “experimental-garage-jazz” trio based out of New York. The band’s debut record, Locked In A Basement, was released in the spring of 2006 and was met with praise from critics and musicians alike. Legendary drummer Bill Bruford (Yes, King Crimson) called the record “the most exuberant, dramatic, beautiful, sassy, genre-busting little outing that I’ve heard since I don’t know when.”. “It’s a slick, burnin electrofunk trio,” said Time Out New York.
Mark has been a member of Avishai’s band since 2003 and has appeared on Avishai’s last four releases. He has also recorded and performed with the Jazz Mandolin Project, Bobby McFerrin, Jason Lindner, Branford Marsalis, and James Williams. For more information, visit www.markguiliana.com.
Shai Maestro. Shai Maestro, the gifted pianist born in Israel in 1987, joined the Avishai Cohen Trio as a fresh new voice in 2006. He began playing classical piano at the age of five, and was first exposed to jazz when, at the age of eight, he first heard Oscar Peterson’s “Gershwin Songbook”. He was accepted to the Thelma Yellin High School of Performing Arts in Givataim where he completed his studies with honors.
While still a sophomore, he received a full tuition scholarship to attend Berklee College of Music’s Summer Program for two consecutive years. While on a concert tour in the US, including a performance at the IAJE with the school’s big-band, he auditioned at Berklee for the 4-year program and was again offered a full tuition scholarship.
Maestro was first exposed to Avishai Cohen in 1997 during a concert by the Chick Corea Trio with Gary Burton in Sweden. Avishai’s music had and still has a huge influence on Maestro’s musical development, alongside the influences of Bach, Chopin, Beethoven, Keith Jarrett, Brad Mehldau, Herbie Hancock, Miles Davis, Chick Corea and many others, as well as non-musical influences such as German authors Herman Hesse and the Israeli philosopher Yishayahu Leibowitz.
Work has already earned him great international acclaim. “Shai Maestro is a phenomenon that deserves his own surname and uses his marvelous technique to create streams of emotion,” according to Spain’s Jazz Zaragoza Spain. “. . . post bop, to free jazz, fused with North African and Middle Eastern influences were brilliantly performed and provided a thoughtful and comprehensive introduction to the range and passion of Shai Maestro’s piano virtuosity,” said Sounds Of Timeless Jazz. Minneapolis St Paul magazine noted, “Followers on the lookout for the next young whiz with jaw-dropping chops will want to take note of pianist Shai Maestro, a kid from Jerusalem who has liquid lightning in his fingers,” while the San Diego Union Tribune said, “. . . he clearly has the potential to become a force in his own right. . . he plays with a combination of technical fire and sophistication rare in musicians of his age.”
Now, with the release of Gently Disturbed, Cohen’s fourth release on his own Razdaz Recordz label, Cohen is once again breaking new ground with a reconfigured trio that takes full advantage of their significant musical talents to channel their creative vision. The trio now features Israeli pianist Shai Maestro. Since Cohen is an accomplished pianist in his own right, and has performed on bass with such acclaimed jazz pianists as Danilo Perez, Brad Mehldau and of course Chick Corea, it is even more striking to note that Maestro has just turned 21. Rounding out the trio is the brilliant drummer Mark Guiliana, who has been playing and touring with Cohen since 2003 and who was cited in Modern Drummer’s 2007 Readers Poll 2007 as “one of the best up-and-coming stars of today’s drumming scene.”
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