Clarinetist-saxophonist Anat Cohen has won hearts and minds the world over with her expressive virtuosity and delightful stage presence. Reviewing one of Anat’s headlining sets with her quartet at the North See Jazz Festival, DownBeat said: “Cohen not only proved to be a woodwind revelation of dark tones and delicious lyricism, but also a dynamic bandleader who danced and shouted out encouragement to her group – whooping it up when pianist Jason Lindner followed her clarinet trills on a Latin-flavored number. . . With her dark, curly, shoulder-length hair swaying to the beat as she danced, she was a picture of joy.”
The Jazz Journalists Association has voted Anat as Clarinetist of the Year eight years in a row, and she has topped both the Critics and Readers Polls in the clarinet category in DownBeat magazine every year since 2011. That’s not to mention years of being named Rising Star in the soprano and tenor saxophone categories in DownBeat, as well as for Jazz Artist of the Year. In 2009, ASCAP awarded Anat a Wall of Fame prize for composition and musicianship, among other honors. Earning this acclaim, Anat has toured the world with her quartet, headlining at the Newport, Umbria, SF Jazz and North Sea jazz festivals as well as at such hallowed clubs as New York’s Village Vanguard and at Columbia University’s prestigious Miller Theatre. In March 2015, Anzic Records releasesLuminosa, her seventh album as a bandleader.Luminosa sees Anat play singing, dancing originals, interpret Brazilian classics by the likes of Milton Nascimento, and even re-imagine electronica as acoustica with an ingenious arrangement of a Flying Lotus tune. Members from Anat’s touring quartet – keyboardist Jason Lindner, bassist Joe Martin, drummer Daniel Freedman – appear on the album, as do guest guitarists Romero Lubambo and Gilad Hekselman, percussionist Gilmar Gomes and the Brazilian players of her new band Choro Aventuroso.
Luminosa encapsulates the description Jazz Policeoffered of Anat in full flight: “She becomes a singer, a poet, a mad scientist, laughing – musically – with the delight of reaching that new place, that new feeling, with each chorus.” Along with interpreting several Brazilian numbers – two choro pieces and a trio of Nascimento songs – the album features multiple originals by Anat, including compositional tributes to Brazilian guitar great Baden Powell and the inspirational founder of the Newport Jazz Festival, George Wein. “The sound of Luminosa reflects my musical life in New York City,” she explains. “I flow between modern and traditional jazz, between samba and choro – all maybe in a week’s time. The title is Portuguese for luminous – something shining, especially in the dark. To me, music is a luminous experience. Whenever I’m immersed in it, life lights up for me, no matter what else is going on.”
The new Luminosa follows Anat’s acclaimed Anzic release from 2012, Claroscuro, which takes its title from the Spanish word describing the play of light and shade (chiaroscuro in Italian). The album showcased Anat’s fluency in a global set of styles, from creolized New Orleans chanson and the evergreen swing of an Artie Shaw tune to African grooves and Brazilian choro, samba and more. Playing clarinet, bass clarinet and tenor and soprano saxophones, she was joined in the studio by her quartet, plus such special guests as trombonist/vocalist Wycliffe Gordon and star clarinetist Paquito D’Rivera. Reflecting on the naturally communicative, one-take spontaneity of the album, Anat said: “I was playing with some of my favorite musicians in the world, and we all speak a common language, no matter where we come from.” DownBeat gave Claroscuro four-and-a-half stars out of five, praising its “effervescence” and “deeply resonant” qualities, with the review concluding that “this multifaceted woodwind player only gets better.” Also taken by the record’s ebullient, irresistible variety, All About Jazz declared about Anat: “She’s one of a kind.”
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