Sunday, March 22, 2015

Anat Cohen - Luminosa (Anzic Records, 2015)

Using Brazilian music as a jumping off point, multi-instrumentalist Anat Cohen plays a wide range of music on this balanced set of mainstream jazz. She is joined by Jason Lindner on keyboards, Joe Martin on bass, Daniel Freedman on drums, Romero Lubambo and Gilad Hekselman on guitar and percussionist Gilmar Gomes along with special guests. The album begins with “Lilia” which has a slow and patient opening, building to a mid-tempo clarinet solo that smears long slippery notes over piano, bass and drums. Joyful clapping percussion introduces “Putty Boy Strut” which wouldn’t sound out of place at a New Orleans street party. Cohen responds with upbeat, dancing clarinet. The word “strut” accurately describes this song as the buoyant playing carries it all the way through to the end.  “Bachiao” is enveloped by hollow sounding clarinet and gentle guitar making for a bossa nova feel. Satiny sounding guitar picks up the pace in the middle and the interplay on this duo selection works quite well. Slow and haunted acoustic guitar in conjunction with elegiac clarinet usher in “Cais.” The music has a slow and mournful ballad feel with light percussion and just a hint of keyboards framing the piece. The rhythm section glides in to pick up the pace, giving the music an episodic feel. Cohen’s clarinet becomes more urgent over percussive piano as she includes crying wails from her bass clarinet. “In the Spirit of Baden” has some medium tempo percussion with a hint of gentle guitar while the clarinet caresses the melody. Keyboard notes fall like a gentle shower while acoustic guitar and gentle percussion hold the groove. The music moves to a rather complex but beguiling conclusion. “Espinha De Bacalhau” has a very jaunty feel with accordion adding to the guitar and clarinet. The music is fast and impassioned but also light on its feet, truly music to dance to. There is a rolling feature for the clarinet, carrying the music through to the finale. She ends the album by playing tenor saxophone on “The Wein Machine” with the band swinging well at a medium boil. Thick bass and drums underpin a catchy groove with a hint of keyboard. Using compositions from musicians as diverse as Flying Lotus and Milton Nascimento as well as her own originals on this album keep the music varied. There is no pretentiousness to the music and it is played in the spirit of fun, sincerity and open emotion. Luminosa -

Send comments to Tim.