Sunday, November 20, 2011

Cookin' With Pianist David Bennett Cohen

Some may remember the psychedelic group, Country Joe & The Fish. One its members, David Bennett Cohen, has been part of the blues and roots circuit (This writer saw him at the Western Maryland Blues Festival several years back), and has a new CD, Cookin’ With Cohen (Core Records). Cohen is heard mostly on piano (he plays acoustic guitar also) and backed by a small group of guitar, bass, drums and percussion on a selection of blues and blues-oriented material that displays his solid blues keyboard style and musical versatility.

The title track is a nice boogie woogie with also a guitar solo from Chris Carter. Carter adds a blues-rock guitar tone on The Ballad of Ruby and Jaspar, before Cohen takes his solo on this medium walking tempo instrumental. Cohen’s two-handed attack is well paced and doesn’t need the distraction of the buzzy guitar tone here. Bobby Day adds the vocal on the gospel-tinged We All Want Peace in Our Time, which features more rollicking piano by Cohen along with a somewhat jazzier solo here, but its Cohen’s playing that still is at the core.

Like Stars After Sunrise has a Latin groove, while Booze is a morning after blues with Day singing rather colorlessly and the percussion heavy Crawfish Royale has a New Orleans second line groove. Portuguese Moon features vocalist Elizabeth Lohninger on a Latin-tinged pop number, while Cohen adapts K.C. Douglas’ Mercury Blues into an easy rocking piano boogie blues with one of the better vocals from Bobby Day and also some of guitarist Carter’s best playing. Cohen also brings a distinctive touch to, When the Saints Go Marching In, which opens as a dirge before the group kick off a second line rhythm and new lyrics about New Orleans being restored. However, the vocal is curiously bland. The closing Blues For a Summer’s Dream, is a nice, moody solo instrumental that thankfully eschews the full band.

Cohen is a wonderful pianist with a nice touch and paces his performances well but the backing group makes some of these performances sound generic.

I wrote this review in Fall, 2007 for Jazz & Blues Report, but not sure if it was published. I am not sure from whom I received my review copy, although I believe it was a publicist.

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