All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review


Anat Cohen - Fred Hersch: Live In Healdsburg

Doug Collette By

Sign in to view read count
Equally distinctive as they are, the respective instrumental styles of pianist Fred Hersch and clarinetist Anat Cohen are almost mirror images of each other. That is, the former is generally a formal, dignified presence on his instrument, yet he has a readily discernible playful side that comes out at regular intervals. The latter, on the other hand, displays an innate gaiety in most of her horn work, but also reveals a darker, more contemplative nature that contrasts with her prevailing tone. As a result, Live in Healdsburg becomes a strikingly complementary collaboration as the two gifted players and composers mix of originals with compositions by the likes of Duke Ellington ("Mood Indigo") and Fats Waller ("Jitterbug Waltz)"

This is, however, a live recording of Cohen and Hersch that, for all intents and purposes, was never meant to be. As the Israeli composer and horn-player tells it, engineer Steve Moon inquired about setting up microphones after the pair completed their soundcheck for the imminent performance, to which both acceded. It was months later that Fred Hersch contacted Anat Cohen, emphatically encouraging her to give a listen to the recording. In so doing, the revelation she experienced at the quality of sound and performance turned out to be one worth sharing with the general public.

The casual informality of the setting belies the intensity of the performance. Comprised of seven selections, the set proceeds as if one sustained moment of dual inspiration as Hersch's "A Lark" sets the tone in mood and title, after which Cohen's "The Purple Piece" injects an intense air befitting its title. Without an extravagant conceptual air, these two musicians nevertheless create a density of interplay that is fully in line with their innate abilities and their practiced discipline.

As on both of those numbers, the pianist and clarinetist intuitively anticipate the other's moves throughout and, in so doing they reveal the nuances of the tunes as well as their individual instrumental styles. In listening to Live in Healdsburg, singling out one or the other musician isn't wholly a liability, but on Jimmy Rowles' "The Peacocks," in particular, such focus allows for, then nurtures, a more involved appreciation of how Hersch and Cohen play, separately and as a duo. The concept of a twosome further belies the deceptive complexity within the performance.

With only two tracks here, including "Lee's Dream," clocking in shorter than the seven-to-ten minute plus mark, Cohen and Hersch take an intensive approach to each tune and by extension to the overall sixty minutes. The succession of songs and the pair's sensitive approach to the subtleties of each one generates a flow of interactions that alternately provokes and calms. The very textures of the instruments, in fact, become a physical manifestation of those two states of mind as the gentle but firm, percussive piano becomes an ideal foil for the precise but vigorous tones of the clarinet.

It's a fortunate happenstance indeed for listeners other than the audience on this early summer night in 2016 to witness the elevated level of invention these two musicians share during Live in Healdsburg.

Track Listing: A Lark; Child's Song; The Purple Piece; Isfahan; Lee's Dream; The Peacocks; Jitterbug Waltz; Mood Indigo.

Personnel: Anat Cohen: clarinet; Fred Hersch: piano.

Title: Live In Healdsburg | Year Released: 2018 | Record Label: Anzic Records


Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

Shop Music & Tickets

Click any of the store links below and you'll support All About Jazz in the process. Learn how.

Related Articles

Read Out in the Open CD/LP/Track Review
Out in the Open
by Jack Bowers
Published: November 16, 2018
Read Contemporary Chaos Practices CD/LP/Track Review
Contemporary Chaos Practices
by Don Phipps
Published: November 16, 2018
Read Changed Beings CD/LP/Track Review
Changed Beings
by Chris May
Published: November 16, 2018
Read We Must Mustn't We CD/LP/Track Review
We Must Mustn't We
by John Sharpe
Published: November 16, 2018
Read Two Infinitudes; The One You "see" and the One That Is You. CD/LP/Track Review
Two Infinitudes; The One You "see" and the One...
by Glenn Astarita
Published: November 16, 2018
Read Always Forward CD/LP/Track Review
Always Forward
by Jack Bowers
Published: November 15, 2018
Read "Komitas:  Seven Songs" CD/LP/Track Review Komitas: Seven Songs
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: January 7, 2018
Read "Sediments" CD/LP/Track Review Sediments
by Ian Patterson
Published: March 10, 2018
Read "Spirit Fingers" CD/LP/Track Review Spirit Fingers
by Roger Farbey
Published: April 10, 2018
Read "Somewhere Glimmer" CD/LP/Track Review Somewhere Glimmer
by Glenn Astarita
Published: December 15, 2017
Read "Glass" CD/LP/Track Review Glass
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: February 10, 2018
Read "State Of The Baritone Volume 2" CD/LP/Track Review State Of The Baritone Volume 2
by Mark Corroto
Published: April 23, 2018