Anat Cohen

Anat Cohen’s Poetica, on her own Anzic Records label, is a fresh breeze of an album, and I mean that in a good way. Still in her 20s, Cohen plays clarinet with a polished edge and verve second only to Don Byron’s. Born in Tel Aviv, schooled at Berklee, honed in New York clubs, playing not just modern jazz but Brazilian Choro and Dixieland, she lets all her influences show but none of them dominate. Her tone bears something of klezmer’s lilt but none of its schmaltz. Her arrangements have the joyful-melancholic sway of Israeli or Latin folk music but none of its sentimentality. On the album, she also plays two knottily catchy original tunes, a Jacques Brel song, and a tinglingly lovely cover of Coltrane’s “Lonnie’s Lament,” the last backed by a string quartet. The sound, mixed by Joe Ferla and mastered by Sony’s Mark Wilder, is excellent.

Her bandmates are denizens of Smalls and Fat Cat, two tiny but comfortable jazz clubs in the West Village. (The pianist, Jason Lindner, and the bassist, Omer Avital, are leaders of their own much-recorded, vital bands.) It’s a lively jazz scene over there that I should write more about sometime: very young musicians playing exuberant music, at once heady and heart-filled, ripe with complex harmonies and catchy melodic hooks.

I see on her website that, in New York City these next few weeks, Cohen is playing at the Jazz Gallery with Jason Lindner’s big band (mainly on tenor sax) June 21-22, and at the Village Vanguard, with her own Anzic Orchestra July 2, then with her quartet July 3-8.

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