SFJAZZ.org | 5 Things to Know About Anat Cohen

On The Corner Masthead

anat Cohen

November 16, 2020 | by Rusty Aceves

Anat Cohen with her Tentet at SFJAZZ

We look forward to this week’s Fridays at Five streaming concert with clarinet master Anat Cohen and her joyous Tentet project, under the direction of Oded Lev-Ari. Here are five things to get you ready for the show.

  1. She is the most celebrated clarinetist of her generation. Anat won Clarinetist of the Year from the Jazz Journalists Association for eleven consecutive years, and has taken top honors from DownBeat’s Critics Polls and Readers Polls including eight consecutive awards for top clarinetist, as well as Rising Star recognition for Jazz Artist of the Year in 2010, tenor saxophone in 2012, and soprano saxophone in 2013. In 2009, Anat won the first-ever ASCAP Jazz Wall of Fame Prize, and in 2013 won the Paul Acket Award from the North Sea Jazz Festival in Rotterdam (named for the festival founder). She’s received a pair of GRAMMY nominations — one for Outra Coisa, her 2017 duo recording with Brazilian seven-string guitarist Marcello Gonçalves, and other for her 2017 release with her Trio Brasileiro, Rosa Dos Ventos.
  2. She is a member of the “first family” of Israeli jazz musicians. Anat was born in Tel Aviv to a musical family that also includes her brothers, saxophonist Yuval Cohen and former SFJAZZ Collective trumpeter Avishai Cohen. She began clarinet studies at 12 and played jazz on the instrument for the first time as part of the Dixieland band at the Jaffa Conservatory. She attended the prestigious “Thelma Yellin” High School for the Arts, and attended Boston’s Berklee College of Music, beginning her professional jazz career with visits to the New York club Smalls where she met future collaborators Jason Lindner, Omer Avital, and Daniel Freedman. Anat was the first Israeli jazz artist to headline at the legendary Village Vanguard, and in addition to her own work as a leader, has recorded four albums with her brothers Yuval and Avishai as the family band 3 Cohens.
  3. She is a prolific bandleader and collaborator, working in various musical settings. An artist whose artistic breadth encompasses angular modern jazz, the New Orleans trad style, Afro-Cuban jazz, the Middle Eastern influence of her Israeli heritage, and often the musical traditions of Brazil, Anat emerged onto the global jazz scene as a leader with her 2005 debut Place and Time, released on her own Anzic Records label. The album was undeniable proof that the clarinetist was a world class composer, soloist, and bandleader out of the gate, and set the stage for a succession of fascinating projects, from the lush large-group sonics of 2007’s Noir and the nostalgic celebration of her early hero Benny Goodman on 2010’s Clarinetwork: Live at the Village Vanguard to the breathless exoticism of 3 Cohen’s 2007 release Braid and any number of Brazilian tinged sessions with her Trio Brasileiro, the Choro Ensemble, percussionist Cyro Baptista, and Duduka de Fonseca’s Samba Jazz Quintet.
  4. This concert was the West Coast premiere of her Tentet project. Introduced at New York’s Jazz Standard in April 2016, the Tentet is without question the ultimate vehicle for Anat’s omnivorous musical tastes, combining as it does the Brazilian influence, classic Bix Beiderbecke swing, West African rhythms, klezmer music, and fuzz guitar-laden R&B grooves, all bound by a jubilant spirit and assembled with expert precision by arranger and Musical Director Oded Lev-Ari. The group made their West Coast debut at SFJAZZ in December of 2017, performing music from their Anzic Records debut Happy Song, released three months prior. The show was a highlight of SFJAZZ’s sixth season at the SFJAZZ Center, and the band made an encore appearance in May of 2019 during the 2018-19 Season in support of their Happy Song follow-up, Triple Helix.
  5. She’s had a lengthy history with SFJAZZ. In addition to her two appearances with her Tentet, Anat has performed at SFJAZZ in a diverse array of settings over the years, beginning in October 2007 with her quartet at the Florence Gould Theater of the Palace of the Legion of Honor as part of the 25th San Francisco Jazz Festival. She has since played in duet with her brother Avishai at Congregation Sherith Israel in 2010, performed twice in the 2015-16 Season as both part of celebration of the clarinet at Grace Cathedral with Don Byron, David Murray, and Todd Marcus and with her quartet in the Joe Henderson Lab, and with Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band in a celebration of Benny Goodman as part of the 36th San Francisco Jazz Festival in June 2018. Anat was scheduled to perform at SFJAZZ in April 2020 with the superband Artemis featuring Renee Rosnes, Ingrid Jensen, Melissa Aldana, Noriko Ueda and Allison Miller, but that performance was among the first to be canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We look forward to welcoming them back.

Anat Cohen and her Tentet perform Flying Lotus' "Putty Boy Strut" at the Jazz Standard