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Anat Cohen at the Vanguard

Anat Cohen

Watching Anat Cohen perform is a joy matched only by listening to her. At the Village Vanguard, where Cohen and her band held forth for six nights, two sets per night, the clarinetist/saxophonist was a study in motion. Eyes closed as she blew, Cohen often danced in place, crouching, swaying and jumping, wherever the muse took her, following her own ever-shifting melody lines and tempo changes. Then, turning over the solo spot to her musicians-pianist Jason Lindner, upright bassist Joe Martin and drummer Daniel Freedman-she stood or kneeled behind a column that partially obscured her from the audience, continuing to follow the rhythms via physical expression until it was time for her to return front-and-center.

All of this was done with broad smiles-the Anat Cohen Quartet might just be the happiest band in jazz. Lindner, off to Cohen’s right, often beamed as he followed her lead, and she returned the mutual admiration; the deeper he dug in, the more she enjoyed it. But the music was never whimsical. Although the group opened this early set with Fats Waller’s “Jitterbug Waltz,” the track that closes Cohen’s new Anzic CD Notes From the Village, they established from the onset that sheer musicality is their guiding force; they just see no reason not to have a hell of a grand time playing.

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