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Album Reviews

Anat Cohen: Claroscuro



The sweet, warm breath swirls through the woody innards of the clarinet and bass clarinet of Anat Cohen, just as it does through the burnished and gleaming bodies of the soprano and tenor, when she switches to saxophones. This is so characteristic of the glorious reeds and winds style of Anat Cohen and it is no exception on Claroscuro as well. Cohen is one of the most adventuresome clarinet players since Don Byron seemed to pick up from where Eric Dolphy left off on bass clarinet at least. Her playing gurgles and bubbles like a playful brook as it rushes onward, rhythmically leaping over stone and silt. Thus with path-breaking liquidity and rhythms that skip and leap, dally and dangle, Cohen continues to chart a course that is so thrilling that it is no coincidence that listening to her with body and soul the audiophile is often left breathless.

Anat Cohen’s music comes from deep within her soul and is swathed in the emotion of the moment. On this album she lights up her sojourn by traversing the gamut of feelings and palette of colours from dark and sombre shades of blue to moist water colours and shades that glimmer and glow as in the greens and gold’s of pure elation. Thus Cohen’s playing can shift dramatically when the music demands it. On “Anat’s Dance” her playing is brilliantly coloured and sharply resonant. Her intonation has a pristine quality to it as she journeys through the music with the brightness and clarity of an aria. Moreover, with a cheer that rings throughout the music, it is even possible to discern the interminable dance that has been written into and is performed as the song progresses. And then there are the bleakest of aching moments on “And The World Weeps”. This is almost as dark as the elemental sadness of the classic Brazilian ballad “As Rosas Nao Falam”. But Cohen’s playing is more than just about examining the emotions of joy and sadness.

Hers is, first of all about musicality that goes beyond conventional norms of versatility. Cohen is able to daub her notes and phrases with colours from a wondrous palette. In this regard she is capable and does extract a glorious spectrum of sound from each of the instruments that she plays. From the clarinets, there are almost as many muted shades as there are sharply defined and colours that have almost never been experienced before. Some are warm; even hot tones; others are cold and almost brittle as they emerge from the bell of her instruments glinting and refracting the light and shade of her deepest emotions. Cohen’s playing on the soprano saxophone is almost sharp and bronzed. And her tenor voice is full of joy and majesty, reflecting the gilt and glory of the regal heritage she shares with men like Sonny Rollins.

It is clear from the music of Claroscuro that Anat Cohen has a privileged place on the music of today. Her molten art flows from the vortices that pour out of the Brazilian and jazz traditions. This melds in with elemental sense of longing that propels this artist into the world that encompasses the whole world of music. Perhaps this is why Cohen has an uncanny feeling for the particular Brazilian emotion of “saudade” that is indescribable, but deeply felt especially in her playing on “Tudo Que Voce Podia Ser”. There is more of this bleeding emotion on “The Wedding” and it is this absolutely unforgettable beauty in the music of her soul that makes Anat Cohen one of the most exciting musicians to listen to today, as well as Claroscuro one of the most memorable albums of 2012.

Tracks: Anat’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 x Zero; The Wedding.

Personnel: Anat Cohen: clarinet, bass clarinet, soprano saxophone, tenor saxophone; Jason Lindner: piano; Joe Martin: bass; Daniel Freedman: drums; Paquito d’Rivera: clarinet (5, 7, 9, 10); Wycliffe Gordon: trombone, vocal (2, 7); Gilmar Gomez: percussion (6, 9, 10).

Label: Anzic Records
Release date: September 2012
Buy Anat Cohen’s music: amazon

Based in Milton, Ontario, Canada, Raul is a poet, musician and an accomplished critic whose profound analysis is reinforced by his deep understanding of music, technically as well as historically.

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