Country : France Label : Naïve Genres and styles : Afro-Cuban / Jazz / Latin Jazz Year : 2023

Avishai Cohen & Abraham Rodriguez Jr. – Iroko

· by Varun Swarup

Israeli bassist Avishai Cohen joins hands with NYC conga legend, Abraham Rodriguez Jr,  for his latest offering, Iroko. As the manifestation of Cohen’s longtime desire to collaborate with the Latin musicians he met in his early days in New York, Iroko marks Cohen’s first studio excursion into the Afro-Cuban tradition and makes for a singular release in his discography. 

Iroko opens on a strong note with “The Healer”, as a hypnotic and sensual minor bassline takes centre stage around which Rodriguez’ congas and latin vocal harmonies unfold like a flower in bloom. Iroko is clearly an intimate affair and from the very beginning it is evident that Cohen and Rodriguez share a deep connection. As long time friends and collaborators their musical dialogue is one of respect and playfulness, seamlessly blending the deep metric grooves of Cohen’s bass with the percolating rhythms of Rodrigues’ congas.

The album is a testament to Cohen and Rodriguez’ deep reverence for Afro-Cuban musical traditions, which are beautifully intertwined with the narratives of Yoruba mythology. Abraham’s layered harmonies resonate with both power and vulnerability, adding a fullness and depth to the compositions whilst further enhancing the spiritual undertones of the music. In fact thanks to Abraham’s heartfelt vocal performances, Iroko is elevated from being just a duo recording to an album that sounds like a full band coming together in your living room. Together Cohen and Rodriguez create an alchemy that is both spiritually evocative and musically seductive.

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