March 24, 2023— Critically acclaimed jazz bassist and composer Avishai Cohen is joining forces with New York Latin jazz icon Abraham “Abe” Rodriguez Jr. for the new full-length record Iroko, due May 5 on naïve Records. The album, co-produced by Cohen and Latin Grammy Award-winner Javier Limón, is available to pre-save and pre-order HERE.
In celebration of the forthcoming release, the duo is debuting the track “Fahina.” Listen/share HERE.
“‘Fahina’ is a song that I heard Lazaro Ross perform with the Conjunto Folklórico Nacional de Cuba in which they used a marímbula as a bass,” notes Rodgriguez, adding, “It’s also where the Fania record label got its name.”
The pair recently shared the album’s first single, “The Healer;” listen/share HERE.
The project, decades in the making, began to take shape when Cohen first came to New York in the early ’90s and met Rodriguez while playing small clubs throughout the city. Initially conceived as a duo, the pair explore a spectrum of Afro Caribbean styles informed by their respective combined backgrounds in jazz fusion, Afro-Latin jazz, traditional folk music and more.
“Iroko is a long-time dream I have had since knowing and playing with Abraham Rodriguez Jr., a great, unique singer, congero and master of Afro Caribbean music in its full spectrum,” notes Cohen, adding that his longtime dream has been “to do a Latin project with my favorite Latin musicians in New York. It starts with this concept…just me and Abe.”
Rodriguez goes on to explain, “As Mongo Santamaria said, ‘Drum and chant.’ That’s what we have here. It’s universal, and for everyone, young and old. Even those who are bitter, when they hear these songs, will be touched and smile. Those who are angry? We’ll kill them with kindness.”
The pair are set to perform a residency at New York’s storied Blue Note April 25-30 with a full seven-piece Banda Iroko lineup including Horacio “El Negro” Hernandez (drums, percussion), Yosvany Terry (saxophone, chekere), Diego Urcola (trumpet, flugelhorn), Jose Angel (bongos, vocals) and Virginia Alves (vocals). Tickets are available via the Blue Note website.
Cohen is also appearing at select North American festivals with his trio this summer, including the Montreal Jazz Fest, Toronto Jazz Fest, Ottawa Jazz Festival and the Festival de Jazz de Quebec.