Trumpeter Avishai Cohen and pianist Yonathan Avishai play a session in the Elbphilharmonie piano store with Duke Ellington’s »Azalea«.
Born in Tel Aviv, Avishai Cohen was already performing in public at the age of 10. He played in big bands, with Israeli folk and pop artists and in classical orchestras, in every line-up from the jazz duo to the quintet, and from Tel Aviv to New York. Today, he is one of the most important figures in contemporary jazz. And his siblings are musical as well: he appears alongside them as »The 3 Cohens«. One of Avishai Cohen’s regular musical partners of many years’ standing is pianist Yonathan Avishai, with whom he released the album »Playing The Room« in 2019. Critics refer to the sound of this musician, who grew up in Israel and Japan, as »radical in a particular way: he places rests where you don’t expect them.« (BR)
At the age of 18 he was still planning to be a painter, but the American artist Duke Ellington, who died in 1974, went on to become one of the most gifted bandleaders, pianists, entertainers and composers of all time. He wrote more than 2,000 pieces, many of which are now well-known jazz standards. His immensely expressive sound combines influences from blues, gospel and swing with new harmonies and tonal experiments, and became a symbol for American music per se. For a while there was even talk of choosing his hit »Rockin’ in Rhythm« as a new national anthem. For their Elbphilharmonie session, Avishai Cohen and Yonathan Avishai selected the number »Azalea«, which Ellington was inspired to write by Louis Armstrong’s biography »Swing that Music«.
On the 10th floor, well-hidden in the backstage area, the Elbphilharmonie has its piano store. Here on the tenth floor, with optimum humidity and room temperature, five valuable Steinway grand pianos are stored. They are regularly tuned and played, and are rolled on to the stage before rehearsals and concerts – some 400 times per season.
About the series
Artists record exclusive music videos at the Elbphilharmonie and Laeiszhalle for Elbphilharmonie Sessions – sometimes in unusual locations offstage. Discover the concert halls from the inside. Discover what they sound like.
Text: Laura Etspüler, Stand: 17.2.2020