Monday, July 13, 2009

Anat Cohen Quartet: Revisionist Post Modern Jazz from the Big Apple

By Paul Serralheiro

The sound of the clarinet is not one associates with Modern Jazz, but Anat Cohen proved it is still a relevant instrument in her show Monday night at L’Astral (July 6, 9 PM) at the Montreal International Jazz Festival.

The main appeal of her playing was the fluidity of her ideas which was facilitated by an excellent technical command. At times, the technical display took the upper hand, and she would run rote patterns with little musical interest, but these were luckily infrequent, as her lyrical talents dominated.

The music making was aided by some excellent work by guitarist Gilad Hekselman. With a clear presence and a strong voice, Hekselman displayed some original thinking, especially in his percussive concepts. Despite some gratuitous over-reliance on showy playing at times--like the leader--his technical facility mainly served musical ends.

Likewise, bassist Joe Morris had a nice big sound, although his articulation was too heavy at times, where implied notes and rhythms would have been more efficient and effective.

Drummer Daniel Freedman, for his part, showed lots of energy and heart, although his articulation was rather sluggish in spots, missing spryness in his ride cymbal swing figures, for example.

The band purveyed some satisfying music--despite some reservations for this listener--bringing to life an interestingly conceived Jitterbug Waltz, to open the evening. Also memorable were the originals Jay’s Blues, and The Bucket Kicker, as well as a convincing version of Body and Soul, (despite the unimaginative arrangement), and a choro by Pixinguinha to close the show which lasted about 70 minutes, with no encore.



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