Anat Cohen

Over the last decade reedist Anat Cohen has been the face of the bustling community of Israeli jazz musicians working in New York. (For those curious about this inspired scene, the third annual Israeli Jazz & World Music Festival has just been announced—it happens during May 14-22, and features several great bands led by bassist Omer Avital and Cohen’s trumpet-playing brother Avishai.) She’s demonstrated a voracious curiosity, juggling a strong feel for hard-swinging post-bop and a serious affinity for Brazilian choro, an instrumental cousin of samba that feels a lot like jazz in its spirited improvisational ethos. In the past Cohen has largely kept these interests separate, but on her lovely new album Luminosa (Anzic) she finally brings them together—although her interest in Brazilian music extends beyond choro in this instance.

The album opens with a buoyant reading of “Lilia,” one of the great songs from the 1972 Milton Nascimento and Lo Borges masterpiece Clube da Esquina, and as the album progresses she also tackles tunes by Edu Lobo and Chico Buarque, choro pioneer Severino Araujo, and reedist K-Ximbinho (who played as a sideman in a band led by Araujo). Cohen has a gift for melody and that knack certainly explains part of her attraction to Brazilian music. Her original, “In the Spirit of Baden,” is an homage to the brilliant guitarist Baden Powell, and part of the chord progression sounds like it was inspired by Os Afro-Sambas, Powell’s classic 1966 album with Vinicius de Moraes. But it’s not all about Brazilian music: Cohen’s deft clarinet playing is downright ebullient and earthy on the appropriately upbeat “Happy Song,” and she switches to plush tenor sax on the album closer “The Wein Machine,” a salute to the storied New York jazz promoter George Wein. Below you can check out another unexpected direction she takes on the new album, tackling “Putty Boy Strut” by Flying Lotus, in which guest percussionist Gilmar Gomes masterfully sculpts intricate grooves alongside Cohen’s working drummer Daniel Freedman as Jason Lindner traces out hypnotic lines on a Wurlitzer electric piano.

Cohen and her quartet—with Lindner, drummer Adam Cruz, and bassist Linda Oh—perform tonight at City Winery.

Today’s playlist:

Chris Watson, El Tren Fantasma (Touch)
Dinah Washington, After Hours With Miss “D” (Verve/Emarcy)
Vinicius Cantuaria, Indio de Apartamento (Naïve)
Mon Rivera y Su Orquesta, Karacatis Vol. 1 (Ansonia)
Astor Piazzolla, Tango Para una Ciudad (Sony/BMG, Argentina)