Anat Cohen (Anzic)
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.