There haven’t been many great clarinetists in Jazz since the days of Sidney Bechet, Artie Shaw and Benny Goodman. That changed a few years ago when Anat Cohen came on the scene. She first became known for her saxophone work when she and her brothers, also accomplished Jazz musicians, came to the US from Israel in the 1990’s.
She first came into prominence as a saxophonist before returning her focus to her first love, the clarinet. She then released a series of acclaimed recordings on her own Anzic label including the latest, Claroscuro, a play on Chiaroscuro, the Spanish word that describes the play of light and shade. Anat is joined on this release by a group of world-class musicians including Jason Lindner, bassist Joe Martin and drummer Daniel Friedman. Many of the tracks also feature guest musicians including the acclaimed Cuban born multireed man Paquito d’Rivera, Wycliffe Gordon, one of the best trombone players around and percussionist Gilmar Gomes.
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Bob Cochran culturalpurveyor.com
Offering a variety of tones and shades on clarinet, Anat Cohen does indeed create something that could be called “Claroscuro.” Rapidly turning into one of the best clarinetists in jazz, Cohen offers originals, a gently drifting version of “La Vie en Rose,” Artie Shaw’s “Nightmare” and a great version of “Um a Zero” from Brazil’s famed Pixinguinha. On the latter and on three other numbers, she is joined by Paquito D’Rivera, who rivals her clarinet stardom. But it says quite a bit about Cohen’s playing when it stands so far above his work. On “Kick Off,” Cohen plays bass clarinet as D’Rivera joins her on the higher-pitched woodwind. She plays tenor and soprano saxes on the album, too, but her work on clarinet stands out, which is normally the case. It is no surprise she took the top spot on this year’s Downbeat magazine critic’s poll. Trombonist Wycliffe Gordon joins the band for two tracks on this well-done album. The album is available Tuesday.
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Bob Karlovits triblive.com
Even a few weeks before her new recording was released, Anat Cohen had earned the #1 ranking for clarinet in Downbeat’s Critics poll and graced the cover of Jazz Times’ “Women’s Issue” (September 2012). The spotlight was already well earned; Claroscuro (Anzic), however, serves as confirmation that Cohen’s talents warrant gender-neutral evaluation. In the largely male-dominated universe of instrumental jazz, Anat Cohen challenges those stereotypes with every note.
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The clarinetist and multi-reedist Anat Cohen has a sound that speaks in an array of brilliant colors. As a performer and leader, (she recently kicked off the release of “Claroscuro” on Anzic Records with a six night gig at the Village Vanguard, a comfortable space that she called “one big living room”) Cohen knows how to pull a listener in, feeding on the attention of her audience as much as her quartet to rapturously blow through standards old and new and absorbing originals, too. She’s a charmer who connects emotionally and you walk away both thrilled and thoroughly entertained – all of which is nicely conveyed on the disc.
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Born in Tel Aviv, Anat Cohen came to New York two decades ago to study the masters of jazz. In so doing, the clarinetist and saxophonist started a bit of a stampede: Today, Israel is exporting some of the most vital jazz out there.
After years of also studying the music of South America, Cohen has chosen to name her newest record Claroscuro. It’s the Spanish variation on the Italian art term ‘chiaroscuro’ — the technique of contrasting light and shadow. Cohen spoke with NPR’s Guy Raz about her home country’s emergence as a jazz capital, what changed for her when she came to the U.S., and where her mind goes when she performs.
Listen to the entire interview on NPR.org
The New York jazz community, long populated by players from around the world, has seen a major influx of excellent Israeli musicians in last 20 years.
Among this crowd, the stand-out is doubtless Anat Cohen, who as a clarinetist and multi-reedist has topped several jazz polls in recent years. Now living in Williamsburg, Ms. Cohen in 2009 became the first Israeli-born bandleader to play the Village Vanguard. This week, she returns to the jazz shrine on Seventh Avenue.
Read the entire Tad Hendrickson piece on the Wall Street Journal