Jun 9, 2023
A new face on the New York jazz scene, 25-year-old guitarist-composer Tomer Cohen made his debut as a leader earlier this year with the release of Not the Same River, an album that shows how painting with sound and silence can create often striking musical moods.
Accompanied by the highly interactive rhythm tandem of drummer Obed Calvaire (a ubiquitous figure on the NYC scene and currently a member of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis) and stalwart bassist Matt Penman (formerly a linchpin of the SFJAZZ Collective and sideman on over 100 recordings), Cohen demonstrates his unique fingerstyle-and-pick technique on eight thoughtful compositions that reflect his pastoral upbringing, from age 4 to 21, on a kibbutz in Israel.
From the wistful title track to the odd-metered, Middle Eastern flavored “Connecting Dots,” the meditative “Hithadshut (Regeneration)” and the intricate, briskly moving “Empty?,” Cohen distinguishes himself as a fresh new voice through his affecting compositions and considerable six-string skills. Other tunes like “Pastures” and “Sunrise” show his unique ability to evoke a sense of place in a composition, while the energized groover “Probably More than Two” and the sublime ballad “First Laps” each harken back to more personal memories for the composer. The extraordinarily sensitive and complimentary playing of Calvaire and Penman throughout Not the Same River only serves to elevate the proceedings from track to track.
Podcast 950 is my conversation with Tomer, as we dsicuss his writing techniques, his thematic choices for compositions, and his choice of gear to create the sonic landscapes of Not the Same River, Musical selections include “Connecting Dots.”