Saturday, October 06, 2012

Clarinetist Anat Cohen's Joyful Claroscuro

The award-winning, Israeli born Clarinetist Anat Cohen’s latest release is Claroscuro (Anzic). Cohen and her clarinets and saxophones are joined on this recording by her quartet of pianist Jason Lindner, bassist Joe Martin and drummer Daniel Freedman. There are also appearances by Paquito D’Rivera on clarinet, Wycliffe Gordon on trombone and Gilmar Gomes on percussion.

The album takes it title from the Spanish word describing the play of light and shade (chiaroscuro in Italian) and was a title that Cohen believes most accurately describes “the contrasts within the sounds of the album mainly between light (buoyant and joyous) and dark (multi-layered and intense).” The music exhibits playfulness on Lindner’s Anat’s Dance, exhilaration in the duet with D’Rivera on Pixinuinha’s Um a Zero, as well as melancholy on another duet with D’Rivera on Artie Shaw’s Nightmare. There is an intensity manifested by the clarinets on that number that contrasts with the pensiveness Cohen, on tenor saxophone exhibits during Abdullah Ibrahim’s The Wedding

In addition to the variety of emotions expressed, Cohen transverses the traditional and the modern. La Vie En Rose, a song associated with Edith Piaf. H Wycliffe Gordon adds trombone (with some nice growling mute playing) and a Louis Armstrong-inspired vocal in addition to Cohen’s lovely clarinet that would bring a smile to Barney Bigard. A favorite selection is the contemporary rendition of Pixinuinha’s classic choro Um a Zero, with the dazzling clarinet duets between Cohen and D’Rivera. On this, percussionist Gomes and drummer Freedman also get some of the spotlight. Cohen, on tenor saxophone, plays more contemplatively in her interpretation of the afore-mentioned rendition of Abdullah Ibrahim’s The Wedding. This is the final selection in another outstanding recording from one of today's most significant jazz voice. 

My review copy was provided by a publicist for the release. Here is Anat Cohen and her quartet in performance. 

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