By Jay Harvey
Israeli musicians, especially once they become active in the U.S., are making waves in American jazz these days. Third World Love is a great example of some of the forward directions that are suggested by openness to Mediterranean musical influences. It’s good to see a contemporary acoustic jazz quartet that tries to do more than find a niche for itself within the well-paced gallery of post-bop.
In “Songs and Portraits” (Anzic Records) the compositional duties are pretty well distributed among trumpeter Avishai Cohen, pianist Yonatan Avishai, bassist Omer Avital and drummer Daniel Freedman. The palm for playing distinction has to go to Cohen, however, who seems — either by mutual agreement or natural dominance — to be the key voice in Third World Love. Quite a range of trumpet excellence seems to focus the group most in tunes that relate to folk music of the Middle East. This is not an idiom I will turn to often, but I’m glad it’s out there to lend support to the idea that jazz may be the true “world music.”