September 29th, 2008
Anat Cohen was another favorite of mine from last year’s Earshot Jazz Festival.
Tenor saxophonist and clarinetist Anat Cohen is winning high praise for her explorations of Afro-Cuban styles, Argentinian tango, Brazilian choro, classical,
and jazz music. In the decade since she came to the U.S. from her native Tel Aviv, Israel, Cohen has graduated from the prestigious Berklee College of Music, played with such notable Latin American-
styled bands as the Choro Ensemble, New York Samba Jazz (led by Brazilian drum master Duduka Da Fonseca), the pop outfit Brazooca, and the Three Cohens
(with her musical brothers), in addition
to touring the world as lead tenor saxophone in Sherrie Maricle’s all-female big band, the Diva Jazz Orchestra.
In 2005, Cohen’s debut CD, Place and Time, netted the distinction of being one of All About Jazz: New York’s “Best Debut Albums of 2005.” She followed with two discs, Noir and Poetica, this year. On the first, Cohen plays clarinet and tenor, soprano, and alto saxophones at the head of an ensemble of three woodwinds, three trumpets, two trombones, three cellos, and a rhythm section of guitar, bass, drums, and percussion on 10 songs that jazz historian Dan Morgenstern describes as “unfold[ing] like a Pan-American film score.”
Poetica takes a different, but no less compelling, approach to showcasing Cohen’s continually impressive talents as an arranger and bandleader. Here supported
mostly by pianist Jason Lindner, bassist Omer Avital, and drummer Daniel Freedman, Cohen plays only the clarinet on a set list that includes Brazilian, Israeli, and French songs, plus John Coltrane’s “Lonnie’s Lament” and two originals. On the strength of these two releases, Cohen now comes to Seattle on a wave of critical praise.