Anat Cohen: Clarinetwork: Live at the Village Vanguard (2010)
Clarinetwork comes closer, in part because it is her first live album. While Cohen's music until now has been immersed in Israeli, Middle Eastern, classical, Brazilian choro and AfroCuban sources, Clarinetwork is an American history project. On this night at the Village Vanguard in July of 2009, she played eight tunes associated with Benny Goodman on the 100th anniversary of his birth. Clarinetwork is the 118th album recorded at the Village Vanguard. Engineers James Farber and Paul Zinman create a clear, vivid sonic portrait of a time and place.
Those who might think they don't need to hear "Sweet Georgia Brown" again would be wrong. Cohen slides over it quickly and lightly, then flies far away in a cascading, wheeling, ecstatic celebration. With "St. James Infirmary," there might also be the feeling of been there, done that. But Cohen starts by twisting sinuously below middle C, then shoots long high brilliant keenings and held notes of catharsis. When she employs theme-and-variation, like the 12-minute "St. Louis Blues" and the furiously fast "What A Little Moonlight Can Do," she smokes.
Clarinetwork is the album that finally displays the range of Cohen's resources as an improviser. She generates vast arrays of interrelated ideas and goes right to the edge. It creates excitement when a player with exquisite control is willing to risk losing it. Her extended solos (only two of the tunes are under eight minutes) blend wild exhilaration and finesse. The only quiet performance is "Body And Soul," the version uncharacteristically gentle and patient, with one trilling spin-off in the middle and a soft, passionate coda at the end. Pianist Benny Green, bassist Peter Washington and drummer Lewis Nash are energetic accompanists. Though they all get solo space, they do not contribute compelling content. They mark time until Cohen's return.
Track Listing: Sweet Georgia Brown; Lullaby Of The Leaves; Band Announcement; St. James Infirmary; After You've Gone; St. Louis Blues; Body And Soul; What A Little Moonlight Can Do.
Personnel: Anat Cohen: clarinet; Benny Green: piano; Peter Washington: bass; Lewis Nash: drums.
Record Label: Anzic Records
Style: Modern Jazz