Anat Cohen: A Celebration of Women in Jazz

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Monday June 20, 2011

From Jazz Virtuosa

A Celebration of Women in Jazz
Anat Cohen – Clarinet Conversation

Anat Cohen knows how to make a clarinet sing. In fact, as I write this, I am listening to her arrangement of ‘A Change is Gonna Come,’ one of my favorite songs by the legendary Sam Cooke. Her rendition of ‘A Change is Gonna Come’ is on her 2008 album, Notes from the Village. This song is perfect for her clarinet because when she plays, she gives such life to the instrument to the point where it feels like you and her clarinet have known each other for years and the clarinet is sharing its most poignant, painful and enlightening stories with you. In ‘A Change is Gonna Come,’ she makes me believe that she believes that change will come and also that she understood was Sam Cooke was singing about. The arrangement feels like both a wonderful tribute and a from-the-heart testimony. Anat is a true musical storyteller. For me, her style is beautifully conversational and melodious. She is bluesy, soulful and real in her music.

In all honesty, I usually don’t feel very connected or moved when I hear the clarinet but when Anat Cohen plays the clarinet, I am with her every step, walking with her on every note. There is a familiarity — even a warmth — between her music and the listener that she has masterfully captured. The way she bends each note is as if she is telling you secret and sharing a personal story with you. She plays the clarinet with an intimacy (between her and the listener, as well as her and the other band members) that is distinctive and unmatched. The fact that she is able to turn the clarinet into a unique combination of the most prolific spoken word artist and a close friend from ‘back in the day’ speaks volumes about her gift and her openness to take risks musically.

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