Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Anat Cohen - Notes from the Village (Anzic, 2008)

Clarinetist and saxophonist Anat Cohen has become a rising force on the mainstream jazz scene both as a leader and as a supporting musician. Her newest album mixes originals and covers, and she is joined by Jason Linder on piano and keyboards, Omer Avital on bass, Gilad Hekselman on guitar and David Freedman on drums. "Washington Square Park" opens the disc in an uptempo fashion with fleet soprano saxophone, a liquid sounding guitar solo, sweeping over a percussive groove and a weird synth noodle at the end which sounds a little bit out of place. "Until You're in Love Again" has a mellower, melancholy feel with the bowed bass adding to the brooding feel, a full bodied lush piano interlude and some nice dark and probing guitar, then deep and hollow sounding clarinet. "Siboney" has a piano opening, and reedy clarinet introducing a catchy Latin feel, with the clarinet picking up steam and is followed by a bouncing and swirling piano solo. John Coltrane's beautifully moody composition "After the Rain" gets a slow and meditative performance, spiritual and probing. Perhaps a little to reverential and reticent, this version doesn't quite make the mark. "Lullaby for the Native Ones" has gentle feel, soothing with melodic tenor sax, that slowly begins to dig deeper, and sounding good in a very well developed and paced solo. Sam Cooke's "Change is Gonna Come" has some sweet, woody clarinet, but is just a little too mellow for my taste. "Jitterbug Waltz" however, is very enjoyable, it's jaunty with a pecking clarinet and piano, then an expansive clarinet solo and piano interlude start slow but builds well in a fun performance. This was a solid and well performed disc. It's nice to hear someone with a distinctive clarinet tone, as that instrument has seemingly fallen out of favor amongst contemporary jazz performers.

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