Home CDs Jazz Report 3 Cohens (Anat, Yuval, Avishai): Tightrope

3 Cohens (Anat, Yuval, Avishai): Tightrope

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3 Cohens

3 Cohens - TightropeTo make this album, Tightrope, with virtually just reeds, woodwinds and brass takes courage. To pull it off requires a very large measure of ingenuity. And if anyone should have a surfeit of that quality it would be the 3 Cohens—saxophonist and clarinetist Anat Cohen and her brothers soprano saxophonist Yuval Cohen and trumpeter Avishai. Each are successful musicians in their own right, with many critically acclaimed to their credit—both individually and together. But together they are something else. Perhaps it has to do with the fact that they are siblings, but that is only part of it. There is a secret, invisible almost gossamer-like braid that binds one to the other to the quick and this is purely musical; where it becomes a magical triple-helix. Anat Cohen is transcendentally bound in to a phrase by Yuval Cohen, who is able to anticipate where Avishai Cohen will go and so prepares the ground for him as he were foretelling the future of the piece. “Indiana” a piece halfway through the album is a maddeningly beautiful piece that illustrates this aspect of the Cohens’ interaction. The chart begins with an angular version of “(Back Home Again In) Indiana” with Avishai Cohen and Yuval Cohen and clarinetist Anat Cohen carve up the chart with outstanding triangulated counterpoint, which like shifting sands moves almost amorphously until, after six choruses the music begins to break down and by the ninth chorus, “Indiana” morphs magically and ingeniously from the New Orleans of Louis Armstrong into the Miles Davis/Charlie Parker contrafact of Donna-Lee.

There is a lot more to combined musical energy of the 3 Cohens. This is seen in the five “Conversation” pieces that feature the purest form of improvisation and explorations of tone and texture. Each of the five pieces also heralds not only the magnificent interplay between the siblings, but also very advanced polyphony and an exquisite sense of time and space within the musicianship between the players. And then there is the magnetic effect that the three Cohens have on the guest participants. Christian McBride brings an exciting wallop to Duke Ellington’s “Just Squeeze Me,” the high point of which is not only Mr. McBride’s tonal elegance, but also the superb improvisation of Anat, Avishai and Yuval Cohen and the organic melding of the players with each other. “Black” brings drummer Jonathan Blake into the mix and he too gives a fine account of himself. Mr. Blake’s beautiful phrasing added to the outstanding improvisations of the three siblings adds an extraordinary dimension to the piece. The third guest artist is the pianist, Fred Hersch who turns in a stellar performance. The choice of music on which he participates appears to be inspired as it showcases not only his virtuosity (“Estate”), but also his emotional playing (“Song Without Words # 4: Duet”) and his brilliant sense of time (“I Mean You”).

Such repertoire is no accident either. The Cohen family were in all likelihood brought up on everything from Yiddish melodies (“Aililulilu”) to music of advanced polyphony such as the late romantic composers as well as classical and folk music. These three extraordinary performers also absorbed lessons in odd time and breathtaking rhythm by deep listening of swing and Bebop music. The superb version of “Hot House” and the dramatic turn to “Donna Lee” from “Indiana” are telling examples of what must have been in the Cohen household; and this is borne out not only on Tightrope but also on three other albums by the siblings. And then there is the significance of the title, Tightrope. Not only does it suggest approaching the charts without any pre-conceived notions, so that the music is spontaneous and fresh from chart to chart, but there is also the secret suggestion that there is no net below. So that the element of chance is even more admirable not only in picking the right tunes, but executing each of them flawlessly on a record that is sure to stand the test of time through music that is beautiful and enduring.

Track List: Blueport; Conversation #1; Song Without Words #4: Duet; Conversation #2; Black; Just Squeeze Me; Hot House; There’s No You; Estate; Conversation #3; Indiana; I Mean You; It Might As Well; Festive Minor; Conversation #4; Conversation #5; Aililulilu; Mantra.

Personnel: Anat Cohen: tenor saxophone, clarinet, bass clarinet; Yuval Cohen: soprano saxophone; Avishai Cohen: trumpet; Fred Hersch: piano (3, 9, 12); Jonathan Blake: drums (5); Christian McBride: bass (6).

Label: Anzic Records | Release date: October 2013

Website: 3cohens.net | Buy music on: amazon

About the 3 Cohens

The best jazz groups are made up of kindred spirits, but the rare family band has something more – an intuitive feel for each other that goes beyond words and gestures to a kind of bred-in-the-bone telepathy. The 3 Cohens are that sort of uncommon collective, a trio of siblings from Tel Aviv, Israel – tenor saxophonist/clarinetist Anat Cohen, trumpeter Avishai Cohen and soprano saxophonist Yuval Cohen – whose sense of improvisational interplay is both uncannily fluent and wonderfully, infectiously warm. Along with performing on stages the world over, The 3 Cohens have three studio albums to their credit: One (2004), Braid (2007) and Family (2011) and their new album TIghtrope (released October 22, 2013, via Anzic Records). Like the widely praised albums Braid & Family, the new Tightrope was recorded in Brooklyn, and the disc features the three Israeli horn players cobersting freely among themselves with a few guests: pianist Fred Hersch, double-bassist Christian mcBride and drummer Johnathan Blake. Tightrope underscores the fact that even with the individual careers each of the Cohens pursue to increasing international success, there is something special about the music the three make together.