Avishai Cohen Credit: Caterina di Perri, ECM Records

A stark tenderness marks the opening moments of Cross My Palm With Silver (ECM), the ravishing new album by Israeli trumpeter Avishai Cohen. Over gauzy piano chords played by longtime collaborator Yonathan Avishai, Cohen unfurls lines of exquisite beauty—but there’s no missing the sorrow, and perhaps the feeling of helplessness, that creep in once bassist Barak Mori and drummer Nasheet Waits start playing. The tune is called “Will I Die, Miss? Will I Die?,” words uttered by a frightened Syrian boy in a viral video filmed in the aftermath of a chemical weapons attack last year. Cohen wrote this album in response to current events; the second piece, “Theme for Jimmy Greene,” was composed for a jazz saxophonist whose daughter was killed in the Sandy Hook school shooting. The music is solemn, not angry, as if extending a healing hand to the suffering. Cohen’s work has never been more beautiful, reflecting the dark, burnished sound of the second Miles Davis quintet. Pianist Avishai spreads out notes with the austere splendor of Paul Bley, and the rhythm section contributes by subtraction, omitting any extraneous sound or accent. That leaves Cohen’s rich tone and sparkling lyricism to occupy center stage. Cohen’s Chicago performance last year, when he played music he wrote after his father’s death, made clear that concentrated restraint can hit at least as hard as unrestrained fury, and his gorgeous new album underlines the point. For these performances the trumpeter is accompanied by Mori, pianist Gadi Lehavi, and fantastic drummer Marcus Gilmore, know for his work in Vijay Iyer’s trio.   v

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