Anat Cohen

 

anat

The prolific Anat Cohen – celebrated the world over for her expressive virtuosity and infectious charisma – has never been more inspired, onstage and on record. Since 2005, Anat’s series of releases via her Anzic Records label have seen the clarinetist/saxophonist range from hard-swinging to lilting balladry, from small groups to larger ensembles and back again, exploring a universe of music along the way.

Anat’s latest release and third this year, Happy Song, sees her drawing on diverse musical loves, from Brazilian music to African grooves, from vintage swing to touching ballads. She also explores Klezmer for the first time on record, perhaps surprising for a musician raised in Tel Aviv and long resident in Brooklyn.

The new vehicle for these explorations is the Anat Cohen Tentet, a group of ace New York musicians that made its debut at the Jazz Standard in Manhattan and the famed Newport Jazz Festival.

Above all, Happy Song is another synergistic collaboration between Anat and co-producer/co-arranger Oded Lev-Ari, who is also her partner in Anzic as well as a kindred spirit since their high-school days in Israel.

Anat has been declared Clarinetist of the Year by the Jazz Journalists Association every year since 2007, and she has also been named the top clarinetist in both the readers and critics polls in DownBeat Magazine, the jazz bible, for multiple years running.

Advertisements

Anat Cohen

 

jazz review cover

Rose Dos Ventos

Rose Dos Ventos (“Wind Rose,” or weather vane) continues Anat’s kindred-spirit collaboration with Trio Brasileiro, with the album’s title hinting at the way fresh inspirations pass into their music like a breeze.

They previously paired up for the 2015 Anzic album Alegria da Casa. In the liner essay to that first album, Brazilian pianist Jovino Santos Neto wrote about how the sound of these musicians playing together transports him not to a concert hall but “to a happy gathering of friends in botequim, or corner bar in a small Brazilian town, where  everyone takes part in the roda, or circle of musicians.”

Formed in 2011, Trio Brasileiro is dedicated to performing traditional choro music as well as their own compositions that put a contemporary spin on choro. The group comprises percussionist Alexandra Lora (whose array includes the pitched “hand pan”), Douglas Lora (a member of the award-winning Brasil Guitar Duo) and Duda Maia, one of Brazil’s finest mandolinists (who plays a special 10-string bandolim on Rose Dos Ventos.

The word translates as “cry” – developed in late 19th-century Rio much like its cousin jazz in New Orleans, with Brazilian musicians combining such traditional European dance forms as the polka, waltz and mazurka with African and South American rhythms. Again, like jazz, choro became a vehicle for improvisers.

For the Rose Dos Ventos sessions, the foursome lived together for a week in Brasilia, inventing freely and recording at Maia’s home studio. They built on the more traditional choro sounds of Alegria da Casa, re-imagining the music with original compositions  by Anat and each member of the trio that incorporate far-flung influences, including from Spain (“Flamenco”) and India (“O Ocidente Que Se Oriente”) as well as the worlds of salsa (“Das Neves”) and even rock (the dramatic “Rosa Dos Ventos”).

There is plenty of effervescence (“Baião Da Esperança,” “Ijexá”) and bitter sweetness (“Teimosa,” “Pra Você, Uma Flor”), as well as lively virtuosity (“Choro Pesado,” “Valsa Do Sul”).

The arrangements are textured throughout, with Anat’s lyricism a key voice whether adding beguiling touches to “Lulubia” (“Lullaby”) or improvising “Sambalelê” as a virtual solo over a spare backdrop of percussion.