A new name and voice have risen up in the jazz horn player scene and, for a change, they belong to a woman. Commanding clarinetist (and saxophonist on the side) Anat Cohen boldly entered the jazz atmosphere in 2007, with her acclaimed albums Noir and Poetica, and she generally became an instant sensation. Notes From the Village, her new recording for the Anzic label, is a solid and diverse next step in her exciting musical adventure thus far.
Once again, we can appreciate the Israeli-in-NYC Cohen’s flowing facility and creative heat on a jazz instrument in need of new heroes (and heroines), but she also demonstrates a flair and healthy curiosity as a composer. “Until You’re in Love Again” gleams with balladic sensitivity, mixing jazz sonorities with traces of Jewish melodic heritage. Her playful “J Blues” is a trickily hip, kinetically syncopated variation on the blues, and “Lullaby for the Naïve Ones” is an alluring exercise in more modular composition.
Her ensemble partners-pianist Jason Lindner, bassist Omar Avital, drummer Daniel Freedman, with cameos by guitarist Gilad Hekselman-are spot-on, sensitive to the musical causes. The album’s only distracting quirk, actually, is the otherwise impressive and inspired Lindner’s goofy, flatulent synth sound on his solo on the bubbling, African-esque “Washington Square Park.” This band needs no bells, whistles or gimmicks to state its formidable musical case.
In cover material, Coltrane’s “After the Rain” has a suitably tranquil, after-glow-ish air; Cohen brings a new arrangement spin-with the soulful legacy intact-to Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come” (a song which, in the hands of Bill Frisell and others, has become something of a revitalized anthem in an era when change is indeed on its way). “Jitterbug Waltz” is more reinvented from the melodic ground up, with a fast polyrhythmic overlay on the Fats Waller classic, a fine foil for Cohen’s rich and serpentine clarinet eloquence.