Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Ladies Day April 17 Edition (Pt 1)

Whether you believe in a Supreme Being or not, some spiritual entity must have placed Anat Cohen on this earth to play clarinet in a joyous styles and to interpret, as well as to create, Brazilian music.  It is impossible to sit still listening to "Rosa Dos Ventos", the second Anzic Records release to feature Ms. Cohen with Trio Brasileiro. The Trio - Douglas Lora (7-string guitar), his brother Alexandre (drums, pandeiro, percussion), and Dudu Maia (mandolin, bandolim) - have been making music together since 2011, creating original music that stretches the boundaries of Choro, a Brazilian art form that mixes dance rhythms with traditional folk melodies (read more here).

The Israeli-born Cohen first recorded and toured with Trio Brasileiro in 2013. Their debut album, "Alegria da Casa", (released in 2016 on Anzic), blended choro classics with originals. This time around, the songs are all originals. There is much to enjoy in this 12-song program, from the entrancing opening cut "Baião Da Esperança" to the percussive "Das Neves" (Luiz Ungarelli adds congas on this and one other track) to the clarinet-percussion duo on the title track. Pieces such as "Flamenco" and  "O Ocidente Que Se Oriente" move in fascinating directions. The former is built off the lovely melody played by the 10-string bandolim and by Alexandre Lora on the hang (hand drum); when the clarinet enters, the piece takes on a melancholy tone. The latter track takes its title from a poem by Diego Petrarca. Opening with a drone created by the tambura, the melody is played by clarinet and guitar shadowed by the hand drums (tabla drums, I believe).

There is a touch of Lennon & McCartney in the melody and the feel of "Lulubia", the lovely ballad that closes the album.  The Trio takes it slowly while the clarinet faces and whirls around them, the presence of a sprite in the calm and the quiet.  "Rosa Dos Ventos" charms and thrills listeners from start to finish with lively percussion, fully realized melodies and harmonies as well as far-ranging solos.  Anat Cohen & Trio Brasileiro have made a album that feels like Springtime, like the shackles and darkness of winter have been thrown off to be replaced by the gentle sun, cool breezes, and clean air.  For more information, go to

Here is the delightful opening track:

The second album Ms. Cohen is releasing this month features her in duo with Brazilian 7-string guitarist Marcello Gonçalves.  "Outra Coisa" (Anzic Records) translates to "another thing" and finds the duo exploring the music of composer and multi-instrumentalist Moacir Santos (1926-2006). The guitarist chose the pieces from Santos's long career, rearranging the material, often recorded by larger ensembles, for the two instruments.  Needless to say, the music works very well in this intimate setting for many reasons but especially because the melodies are so strong and tell stories.

The 12 tracks feature six "Coisas" (things), all of have different personalities ranging from the classically inspired "..No. 1" to the somber ballad "..No 6" to the sprightly "..No 10" to the handsome ballad "..No 9."  That last tune, in Santos's recording, has the feel of a Billy Strayhorn ballad. You can hear that hear as well, the lovely and crystal clear guitar backing giving Ms. Cohen the foundation to play the sweet melody and male little musical comments on it. Meanwhile, "..10" is a romp for Gonçalves and listener will love how the the clarinet just slides in the middle of the opening verse.  Two other tracks are "Coisas" including the playful title track in which there are moments where it seems the musicians are circling around each other.  Listen to the "heavy" chords of "Nanã (Coisa No. 5)" - this inspired track gets so quiet at times you can almost see the musicians leaning into each other to listen.

There is a strong hint of Delta blues in the opening guitar statement on "Mae Iracema" (translates to "The Honey-lips"). The song opens up to another splendid dance for the duo.   Pieces such as  "Maracatutute" and "Amphibious" move at a delightful pace and give both musicians the opportunity to create smart solos. The album closes with two ballads, the George Gershwin-inspired "Paraiso" (the song would not feel out of place in "Porgy and Bess") which includes a lovely clarinet solo sans guitar followed by the short (1:08) and emotionally rich "Carrossel", a gentle coda to a delightful album.

Delightful is an excellent word to describe "Outra Coisa."  Marcello Gonçalves did a masterful job on the arrangements (if you're curious, check out his duo work with soprano saxophonist Daniela Spellmann) while Anat Cohen is at the top of her form. She combines the joie de vivre of Paquito D'Rivera with the warmth of Jimmy Guiffre.  All things considered, find a quiet corner and dive into this splendid album.

For more information, go to

Here are the musicians talking about this project:

No comments:

Post a Comment