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Israeli multi-reedist Anat Cohen aligns her saxophones and clarinet alongside a big band on her latest album Noir. With a strong, confident sound, she leads the Anzic Orchestra through ten Oded Lev-Ari- arranged Cape Verdean carnaval tunes, Brazilian choro and jazz standards.
An appropriate opening "La Comparsa , named after the band that plays during Carnaval in Cuba, kicks the disc off playfully. It quivers with a grand jubilance as the horn section crescendos in happy resplendence, urged on by Cohen's whirling, swirling lines. The string section opens "Cry with a romantic overture that paves the way for the album debut of Cohen's clarinet. Here horn lines are at their most tender. The group, including her two brothers, Yuval on soprano saxophone and Avishai on trumpet and flugelhorn, shows off a brisk flexibility throughout the rest of the disc, embodying swinging drama and classic elegance, with Cohen acting as court jester, playing off the crowd and pulling tricks from her sleeve.
In contrast to the big band sound of Noir, Poetica tones down to a quartet (with strings on four tracks). Cinematic, with its emotionally expressive ability to conjure scenes and settings, the ten tracks move in a rhythmic current. The percussive propulsion of Jason Lindner's piano is an assuring partner to Cohen's clarinet, which she plays exclusively on this album. The pair get wrapped up nicely with Omer Avital's bass and Daniel Freedman's drums on "Hofim (Beaches) , a mellow tune that meanders progressively along a circuitous path. "The Purple Piece , one of two original Cohen compositions, features the syrupy flow of her horn against a backdrop of rhythmic texture and a piano solo that surges and finishes with the most delicately glistening, yet swift piano patterns.
"Eyn Gedi written by Israeli singer Ariel Zilber, features a string quartet which coupled with Cohen's pure, delicately rich clarinet, conveys an image of birth, awakening and brand new shimmering beauty. Cohen appears to be sidling up to a melodic tradition that suits her.
Tracks and Personnel
Tracks: La Comparsa; No Moon at All; Carnaval de São Vicente; Do It; Cry Me a River; You Never Told Me That You Care; Medley: Samba de Orfeu/Struttin' with Some Barbeque; Cry; Bebê; Ingênuo.
Personnel: Anat Cohen: tenor, alto, soprano sax, clarinet; Oded Lev-Ari: arranger, conductor; Frank Greene, Tanya Darby, Avishai Cohen: trumpet, flugelhorn; Ted Nash: alto, soprano sax, flute; Yuval Cohen (7): soprano sax; Billy Drewes: tenor sax, clarinet; Scott Robinson: baritone sax, bass clarinet; Deborah Weisz, Yonatan Voltzok: trombone; Guilherme Monteiro: guitars; Barak Mori: bass; Ali Jackson (2,4-6,8), Antonio Sanchez (1,3,7,10): drums; Duduka Da Fonseca: drums (9), percussion (3,7); Zé Mauricio: percussion; Erik Friedlander, Robert Burkhart, Greg Heffernan: cello.
Tracks: Agada Yapanit; Hofim; The Purple Piece; Eyn Gedi; La Chanson des Vieux Amants; Lonnie's Lament; Quando eu Me Chamar Saudade; La Casa del Llano; Nigunin; Cypresses.
Personnel: Anat Cohen: clarinet, arranger (3, 5, 7, 8); Jason Lindner: piano; Omer Avital: bass, arranger (1, 2, 4, 6, 9, 10); Daniel Freedman: drums, percussion (6); Gilad: percussion (10). String Quartet: Antoine Silverman: violin; Belinda Whitney: violin; David Creswell: viola; Danny Miller: cello.