Anat Cohen - Noir (Anzic, 2007)
Clarinetist and saxophonist Anat Cohen has burst upon the jazz scene this year, releasing two albums and receiving much press including a lengthy NPR feature. This album finds her sensual reed work backed by a large orchestra, hearkening back to the swing era for their influences, the band mixes the modern with the classic to generally good results. Cohen is front and center and plays very well. Her tenor saxophone is brawny and tough on "Do It" a rollicking track with the orchestra riffing and Cohen leading with a gutsy solo. "Cry Me A River" is a sweet clarinet feature, with an orchestral backdrop. "Samba De Orfeu/Struttin' With Some Barbecue" evolves into a wonderful Dixieland flavored hoedown, as could be expected on one of Louis Armstrong's favorite tunes, and it has great feeling and excitement. At times ponderous string arrangements threaten to pull the ballads into murkiness, but "You Never Told Me" overcomes this with the orchestra parting and allowing some nice billowing tenor saxophone to shine through. She sounds like she has been absorbing a lot of Dexter Gordon and Ben Webster and she has developed a powerful yet subtle tone on ballads. This is an impressive debut for Anat Cohen, her tenor saxophone work was dark and powerful and her clarinet work light and airy. That arrangements weren't always to my taste, but regardless anyone interested in the swing legacy of jazz will enjoy the music here.
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