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6 Degrees Entertainment

Title - Not the Same River
Artist - Tomer Cohen

For those unaware, a new face on the New York jazz scene, 25-year-old guitarist-composer Tomer Cohen makes his auspicious debut as a leader with Not the Same River, an album that resonates with the same kind of startling originality as Pat Metheny’s Bright Size Life registered 46 years ago.

The album title, Cohen explained, relates to an expression by the Greek philosopher Heraclitus: No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man. That’s the sentence that encompasses all the compositions on the album, he says. We are constantly in motion, we’re always changing, and we just need to accept that.

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 with 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.

The kibbutz is located in the countryside and has a strong sense of community, he recalled. I used to play outside with my guitar, watching the fields and the blue sky. I believe some of that vibe is reflected in some of the tunes on this record.

1. Not the Same River
2. Connecting Dots
3. Hithadshut (Regeneration)
4. Empty?
5. Pastures
6. Sunrise
7. Probably More than Two
8. First Legs

This beautifully sculptured new album opens on the warm embrace of Not the Same River and the more regimented tones of the Middle Eastern flavored Connecting Dots, and then we are brought forth the ornate gossamer of Hithadshut (Regeneration) and the free flowing Empty?

Up next is one of my own personal favorites, the playful Pastures and that is itself backed seamlessly by the sinuous flow within Sunrise, the album rounding out on the upbeat and organic Probably More than Two, coming to a close on the intensely heartfelt, precisely wistful bass rhythms and melodies within First Laps.

The first jazz guitarist that Cohen ever studied was Charlie Christian, quickly followed by the likes of Wes Montgomery, Pat Martino and Jimmy Raney. And then I turned to more modern players like Pat Metheny and Bill Frisell, he recalled. I think you can always hear their influence in my playing.

At the same time, Cohen was intrigued by the complex lines of bebop icons like Charlie Parker, Bud Powell and Dizzy Gillespie as well as sax titans Sonny Rollins and John Coltrane. I would transcribe every one of their solos that I could find, he continued. Every week I would transcribe a different solo and then play it until I could make it.

Tomer Cohen - Probably More than Two [Official Video]