Jazz CD Reviews

Anat Cohen – Claroscuro – Anzic Records

One of the most amazing and versatile reed players around today.

Published on August 19, 2012

Anat Cohen – Claroscuro – Anzic Records

Anat Cohen – Claroscuro – Anzic Records ANZ-0040, 67:04 ****½:

(Anat Cohen, clarinet, bass clarinet, soprano and tenor saxophones; Jason Lindner, piano; Joe Martin, bass; Daniel Freedman, drums. With Special Guests: Paquito D’Rivera, clarinet on tracks 5, 7, 9, and 10; Wycliffe Gordon, trombone on 2 & 7, and vocal on “La Vie En Rose”; Gilmar Gomez, percussion on 6, 9, and 10)

If you look up eclectic saxophone and clarinet players on Wikipedia, I wouldn’t be surprised if the name and photo of Israeli musician, Anat Cohen didn’t show up. Anat has been everywhere in the last 5-10 years. After settling in New York City, she has been super busy. Along with playing along side her two brothers, soprano saxophonist Yuval, and trumpeter, Avishai in the 3 Cohens, Anat is active in the traditional Brazilian “choro” music scene. She is an avid Klezmer musician as well as playing as a soloist for orchestras. Playing in big bands, and as a first call clarinetist keeps her on the road constantly.

On her new Anzic release, Claroscuro, Cohen has the able services of Paquito D’Rivera to accompany her on clarinet. Master trombonist, Wycliffe Gordon sings on “La Vie En Rose, and adds to the entrancing mood of Dr. Lonnie Smith’s “And the World Weeps.”

In addition, Anat incorporates more Brazilian rhythms on four tracks, and rounds out the CD with selections from Artie Shaw and Abdullah Ibrahim.

Anat’s lilting clarinet sets a sparkling opener on pianist Lindner’s “Anat’s Dance.” Edith Piaf’s “La Vie En Rose” is channeled through Wycliffe Gordon’s vocal and atmospheric trombone. You feel you are back in the Paris of the 20s and 30s. This song was made famous on many recordings of Louis Armstrong, for whom Cohen has a special affinity as she plays in an Armstrong tribute group, the Cohanim Sextuplet.

Daniel Freedman’s “All Brothers” is a musical stew of middle Eastern meets African motifs, and I sensed some late period Coltrane percolating through the saxophone. Freedman’s drums drives the beat. It’s a hypnotic listening experience. “As Rosas Nao Falam” brings out an image of two dancers wrapped in a embrace in a late night Brazilian movie scene. Joe Martin’s bass solo is very effective here, as is Lindner’s piano accompaniment.

Artie Shaw’s “Nightmare” brings Anat and Paquito D’Rivera together and their reeds mix like two snakes wrapped around each other, more in a love dance than as a death duel. The “growling” of Gordon on Dr. Lonnie Smith’s “And the World Weeps” intro, is followed by a funeral march dirge found in a New Orleans Treme scene.

Tom Jobim’s “Olha Maria” again lets Anat’s lyric prowess shine as she blends with band mate Linder’s piano. Percussionist Gomez is featured on “Kick Off” and his deft hand work on the skins is matched by the clarinets of Paquito and Anat. It’s a track that you want to continue well past its short 2:42 time. Luckily it segues into more joyous playing between the two reed stars on Pixinguinha’s “Um A Zero.”

Claroscuro comes to a mellow, soulful completion on Abdullah Ibrahim’s “The Wedding,” where Anat  shows her bona fides on the tenor sax with a full muscular tone. Jason Lindner’s piano solo adds to the bluesy feel that Anat lays down.

I can’t recommend this CD enough. It covers the full range of Anat Cohen’s multi-dimensional talents, backed by her solid band, and two great special guests, D’Rivera and Gordon.

TrackList: Ant’s Dance, La Vie En Rose, All Brothers, As Rosas Nao Falam, Nightmare, Tudo Que Voce Podia Ser, And the World Weeps, Olha Maria, Kick Off, Um A Zero, The Wedding

-Jeff Krow




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