What's "home?" Is it where somebody's born and raised? Is it where a person resides at a given time? Or is it any place where an individual finds a high level of comfort, joy, and possibility? For Lorin Cohen, it's all three. This talented bassist-composer makes that fact plainly apparent on this, his leader debut.
With Home, Cohen pays tribute to the city that fostered his musical growth and development through childhood (Chicago), the metropolis where he currently hangs his hat (New York City), and a region full of ripe musical wonders (the Caribbean). The influence or connection to said locales is often east to spot, as on the vibrant, tropically-tinged "Saudade" and the equally sunny "A Brighter Day," but that's not always the case. Cohen's viewpoint on New York, in particular, is incredibly complex, mutable and personalized. Sure, he gets to the heart of the hard-edged sound of Gotham, but he also finds beauty in that grand city's relentlessness. "Crossings," which opens with rumblings, speaks with melodic clarity, and carries weight, is but one example of how Cohen paints The Big Apple in a different light; "The Hero's Journey," with metric shifts, groove alterations, and tight turns, is another. And then there's Chicago, represented by the touching "The Sweetest Soul (For My Father)." Cohen's heartfelt arco work sells that one at the start, and a less-is-more mindset carries it through.
In putting together this project, Cohen found the perfect musicians to bring his vision to life. Drummer Donald Edwards marries drive, attitude, and precision in his work; percussionist Samuel Torres knows how to accentuate the rhythmic language in a piece without being too heavy-handed; rising star steel pan ace Victor Provost brings zest to the Caribbean-influenced material and beauty to "The Sweetest Soul (For My Father)"; and under-the-radar harmonica player Yvonnick Prene is all breezy charm whenever he appears. Two of Cohen's sometime employers - vibraphonist Joe Locke and pianist Ryan Cohan - round out the group, each bringing their unique gifts to bear on his music: Locke's intricate lines, melodic directness, and mile-a-minute runs never fail to excite, and Cohan brings incredible range to the music, delivering probing thoughts, reflective notions, and all-in attitude. When these voices are married to Cohen's bass - pliant and soulful one moment, fierce and feisty the next - the results are 100% positive.