Tel Aviv native, Israeli Air Force Big Band alum, and Berklee College of Music grad Anat Cohen (clarinet, saxes) has played with New York groups including the Diva Jazz Orchestra, the Five Play Jazz Quintet, Cyro Baptista’s Beat the Donkey, Duduka Da Fonseca’s NY Samba Jazz, and the Choro Ensemble (specializing in the Brazilian chamber string tradition). These, her second and third recordings, are distinctive, complementary titles.
On Noir, Cohen teams with arranger-conductor Oded Lev-Ari and the Anzic Orchestra, creating a meeting place for the music of Brazil and Latin America and big-band jazz. Cohen opens with “La Comparsa,” an affectionate nod to Cuban composer Lecuona which ebbs, swells, and recedes like a sweet Caribbean breeze). “Cry Me a River” is a splendid vehicle for her lyrical clarinet, while the Sun Ra ballad “You Never Told Me That You Care” brings new resonance to the saxophone oeuvre. Hermeto Pascoal’s “Bebê” leads with a striking cello solo, sliding into an upbeat set of changes driven by Cohen’s rapid tenor. Other highlights include an astute revision of “Carnaval De São Vicente,” homage to Nat King Cole’s “No Moon At All,” and an inventive meld of Luiz Bonfa’s “Samba De Orfeu” and Satchmo’s “Struttin’ With Some Barbecue.” Cohen closes sweetly on clarinet with Pixinguinha’s expressive choro “Ingênuo,” a stately coda to a superb ensemble recording.
Poetica is more contemplative, a trio (clarinet, piano, bass) with guest strings and percussion. Cohen essays several pensive Israeli songs, Jacques Brel’s “La Chanson Des Vieux Amants,” Nelson Cavaquinho’s lovely ballad “Quando Eu Me Chamar Saudade,” an illuminating interpretation of John Coltrane’s “Lonnie’s Lament,” and two originals, “The Purple Piece” and “La Casa Del Llano,” a swaying, sprightly sketch of a trip to Venezuela. Especially on clarinet, Cohen’s is a compelling and original voice of great promise.