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Tomer Cohen - Not the Same River (Hypnote)

14 February 2023

The good thing about being a young player in a century-old genre of music is that you have so many influences to synthesize you can find your own style early on. So it seems with guitarist Tomer Cohen on his debut album Not the Same River. His range of study encompasses everyone from Charlie Christian and Wes Montgomery to Pat Metheny and Bill Frisell, and it shows in both his performance and his compositions. Accompanied by bassist Matt Penman and drummer Obed Calvaire, Cohen writes melodies that flow, sometimes in directions you might not expect, and in such a way that they require his exceptional technique to perform them, minus showing off any of his years of music lessons. Check out how the swirling “Sunrise” seems to track dust particles in the breeze highlighted against the dawn, or the way “Empty?” skews its riffs into non-Western territories while still maintaining a sense of swing. Showing remarkable sensitivity to his bandmates’ efforts, he also proves good at brooding musically via the absorbing “First Laps” and searching for particularly tuneful enlightenment in “Hithadshut (Regeneration).” Throughout Cohen subtly evokes his heroes, particularly in his burnt butter tone, but never really sounds like them. That’s a neat trick, especially for a player as young as Cohen, and it helps make Not the Same River a standout debut.