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Anat Cohen: Musical Zelig

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Thursday June 21, 2018

From All About Jazz

Anat Cohen: Musical Zelig
By: R.J. Deluke

Since arriving on the New York City scene in 1999, via Tel Aviv and the Berklee College of Music, Anat Cohen has exhibited qualities in music where one wonders where she is going to be next—musically—and what group of musicians she will be associated with. She plays Brazilian music like she was born there. She swings her ass off with George Wein’s all-star band. If you can’t feel her when she blows some blues, a physical examination may be in order. Cohen’s choices spring from her wide-ranging tastes, her unabashed passion for all kinds of music—and the courage of her convictions to pursue them.

She plays in every genre with unbridled joy. Anyone who has seen this wonderfully talented reed player on stage can’t help but be touched by her elan.

“What keeps me content musically is the fact that I try to put myself in different musical situations and I enjoy them all equally,” says Cohen, who has won most every major poll as jazz music’s top clarinetist for many years now. Making music with others, as long as it’s good music, is what drives her. She admitted, speaking from her New York City home recently, that while she enjoys getting off the road and being at home—it gets to her after awhile and the urge to make music with others tugs at her sleeve.

“When I come back I’m going to be home for a couple weeks,” she says a few days before a gig in Vermont with one of her bands, Choro Aventuroso, “which is so exciting. But if I have two or three days at home, I’m like a fish out of water. I don’t know where to start. I get overwhelmed by all the things I need to do. There’s something nice when you go on the road. There’s only a set amount of things you can take care of.”

“This is the profession we’ve chosen. It’s fun. It’s busy. I want to be making music with other people. Every time I don’t do it, I start wondering what am I doing with my life? When the real moment of playing—it can be just yesterday when I was rehearsing with one of the bands, Choro Aventuroso. We got together. We sit around the table and we play. It’s such a beautiful human encounter and musical encounter. It gives a whole meaning to that day to life. You sit and play and you realize, ‘Wow. We’re alive. We’re here.’ We’re doing something we love to do and we’re communicating and having fun. We’re exploring. It’s incredible how I like the encounters with other musicians. It gives meaning to my life. Some people do better on their own. I like the social gathering around the music.”

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