This past year, Israeli-born clarinetist Anat Cohen has released 2 Brazilian albums, and earlier this the 2 Grammy nominated lady year toured in order to present the alluring Mediterranean sounds from those discs. Returning to LA after just over 6 months, she came with a new ten piece ensemble, celebrating the 100th year of the first jazz recording, and with the band delivered a mini-history of America’s music, taking its roots all the way back the Star of David.
Featuring music from her latest album Happy Song, Ms. Cohen and her team of James Shipp/vib-perc, Rubin Kodheli/cel, Nadje Noordhuis/tp-fh, Nick Finzer/tb, Owen Broder/bcl-bs, Vitor Goncalve/p-acc, Sheryl Bailey/g, Tal Mashiach/b and Anthony Pinciotti/dr were lead through a wide range of themes directed by Oded Lev-Ari.
The 1 ½ hour concert opened with the band digging into a deep electronic funky groove, with some swinging solos from Kodheli, Goncalves and Maschiach while Cohen’s warm tone gracefully floated over the rumbling undercurrents. A hint to Benny Goodman-era swing had Cohen bopping away on “Oh Baby” as Finzer plunged his trombone into growling depths before the team took a turn into a Jewish Shtetl on “Anat’s Doina.” The multi-hued piece had Cohen’s horn delivering a klezmer cry over the trudging pulse before making a sharp turn into frantic themes as if Carl Stallings was performing a Freilich. The mix of galloping rhythms and Cohen’s mercurial was an intoxicating mix of Eastern European harmonies and hotcha jazz.
Joyful Third World beats were supplied by percussion, triangle and handclaps for the festive street dance of “Loro,” while a gorgeous mix of melancholy, longing and yearning pastoral sounds had Cohen creating a passionate plea on “Trills and Thrills.” With the house cheering in appreciation, Cohen and company closed with the Brazilian bounce of “Espinha de Bacalhau,” reminding us that, like 2000 years earlier, great gifts can come from Israel during this Christmas season
Upcoming shows at the Valley Performing Arts Center include Juan de Marcos 01/19, On the Waterfront w/ Orchestra 02.24, Billy Porter/03/23, The Miles Electric Band 05.01, The Clayton-Hamilton Orchestra 04/05, Cecil McLorin Salvant 04/18-19, Terence Blanchard 05/01-01,