3 Cohens – Family – Anzic Records ANZ-7002, 63:03 ****1/2: [10/11/11]
(Anat Cohen – tenor saxophone, clarinet; Avishai Cohen – trumpet; Yuval Cohen – soprano saxophone; Aaron Goldberg – piano; Matt Penman – bass; Gregory Hutchinson – drums; Jon Hendricks – vocals)
Not all musical families work together in a genial fashion (Dorsey, Fogerty, Davies). The 3 Cohen’s are apparently rewriting this narrative. At the vanguard of a burgeoning Israeli jazz movement, their foray into idiomatic jazz began with classical music instruction. All three were awarded scholarships to the prestigious Berklee School Of Music. Anat has become one of the most recognized clarinet players in the world. Her 2010 release, Clarinetwork…Live At The Village Vanguard received critical acclaim. Trumpeter, Avishai has played with SF Jazz Collective and Third World Love. Yuval (soprano saxophone), has returned to Israel to teach, but actively records in a variety of formats.
Individually talented, the three siblings achieve brilliance in ensemble play. Their 2007 breakthrough album Braid sketched a world mosaic of traditional jazz. In addition to instrument virtuosity, their abilities as composers emerged. In April the long awaited follow up, Family was recorded at Systems Two in Brooklyn, New York. With a vibrant sextet, the record is an impressive display of jazz musicianship. The opening track, “Shufla De Shufla” (Best of the Best) is an up tempo swing piece. Avishai rips off two crisp solos, before turning it over to the assured soprano of Yuval. Anat gets to flex her muscle on tenor as well. A blues piece (“Blues For Dandi’s Orange Bull Chasing An Orange Sack”) features Aaron Goldberg executing some agile solos. Then the blended alchemy of the horn/reed chorus plays over the vamp. The arrangements are fresh and inventive.
A few covers illuminate the artistry of these individuals. Duke Ellington’s “The Mooch” invokes an uptown, relaxed mood with captivating unison play and solos. Anat is nimble at lower and higher register on the clarinet. Her arrangement of “Tiger Rag” is full of harmony and counterpoint. This clarinet swings with Benny Goodman vitality. Yuval’s reconfiguration of “Do You Know What It Means To Miss New Orleans” is both lyrical and melancholic. The diversity of styles is coalesced by the innate ability of the Cohen’s to play off each other. Hard bop explorations (“With The Soul Of The Greatest Of Them All” and “Rhapsody In Blake”) have deep texture and complex structures. Guest vocalist Jon Hendricks lends his talents to the casual sway of “On The Sunny Side Of The Street” and the bluesy cadence of “Roll ‘Em Pete”. The sextet graciously backs up this 90 year old vocalese pioneer as he sings and scats with enthusiasm.
Family is very accessible and delivers a modern adaptation of traditional jazz.
TrackList: Shufla De Shufla; Blues For Dandi’s Orange Bull Chasing An Orange Sack; With The Soul Of The Greatest Of Them All (dedicated to Charles Mingus); The Mooch; Do You Know What It Means To Miss New Orleans; Rhapsody In Blake; On The Sunny Side Of The Street; Tiger Rag; Family; Roll ‘Em Pete
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