The Washington Post

At the D.C. Jazz Fes­ti­val, clar­inetist Anat Co­hen showed how to get things started with a bang.

Clar­inetist and her quar­tet bring creative en­ergy to Hamil­ton

- BY MICHAEL J. WEST style@wash­post.com Entertainment · Jazz · Music · Washington · Belgium · Tel Aviv · Austria · Hamilton, Canada · Versace Precious Items · Alice · John Bonham

Memo to jazz pro­duc­ers and pro­mot­ers across the world: If you want your jazz fes­ti­val to be fes­tive, have Anat Co­hen open it.

The Tel Aviv-born, New York­based clar­inetist played a set of con­tem­po­rary jazz at the Hamil­ton on Fri­day night — the open­ing night of 2019’s D.C. Jazz Fes­ti­val — that ex­ploded with in­ten­sity. Her creative en­ergy was re­lent­less and in­fec­tious, prod­ding the other mem­bers of her quar­tet (key­boardist Gary Versace, bassist Tal Mashiach and drum­mer An­thony Pin­ciotti) to stun­ning heights.

It wasn’t with­out somber or quiet mo­ments. It started, in fact, with a long, quiet mo­ment. Co­hen sim­ply took the stage and stood smil­ing silently. The au­di­ence laughed un­cer­tainly. But then came a long, unac­com­pa­nied clar­inet line, so car­toon­ishly bouncy that it could have been a Looney Tunes cue. In­stead it be­came her “Happy Song,” which iron­i­cally tem­pered her bounce with a moody, enig­matic flow from the rhythm sec­tion. Co­hen main­tained her brio any­way, throw­ing out swoop­ing, joy­ful lines and danc­ing in place on Versace’s blues-fla­vored pi­ano solo.

She was only get­ting warmed up. Next came the even more en­er­getic and con­ta­gious “Putty Boy Strut,” open­ing on a syn­co­pated duet by Co­hen and Pin­ciotti, beat­ing the rims of his snare. The tune be­came some­what more se­ri­ous in tone, at least for a few min­utes. Then, as Co­hen and Versace en­tered into im­pro­vised di­a­logue, they be­came in­creas­ingly playful, with Mashiach and Pin­ciotti fol­low­ing suit and build­ing to a reprise of the giddy duet, this time with pi­ano and bass back­ing.

The down­tempo pieces couldn’t dampen that en­ergy. “Waltz for Alice,” with its gin­gerly ar­tic­u­lated pi­ano strains and ten­der clar­inet solo, also con­tained a del­i­cate, im­pec­ca­bly fin­gered solo by Mashiach that showed he had caught the evening’s in­spi­ra­tion. The Brazil­ian “Tudo Que Voce Po­dia Ser” be­gan at a dole­ful medium tempo, but quickly evolved into a hard groove, Mashiach and Pin­ciotti stomp­ing while Versace played pi­ano with his left hand, Fen­der Rhodes elec­tric pi­ano with his right, and Co­hen played driv­ing, pas­sion­ate funk. (She grunted and yelled her way through a clap-along solo by Mashiach, too.) The frag­ile “Ima” — ded­i­cated to a pas­sel of Co­hen’s dis­tant cousins in the au­di­ence — was sweet and wist­ful, but also loaded with the same pas­sion Co­hen brought to “Tudo Que Voce”: lump-in-the-throat stuff.

She couldn’t end it that way. The clos­ing “Jimmy” was as close to rock-and-roll as acoustic jazz gets: Versace bring­ing all his blues licks to bear on the Rhodes, Pin­ciotti do­ing his best John Bon­ham im­pres­sion, Mashiach vamp­ing along in deadly earnest. Co­hen’s clar­inet riffed, tum­bled, screamed, di­ve­bombed. When it was over, sev­eral spec­ta­tors hollered for an en­core — but what could fol­low that?

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 ?? SHERVIN LAINEZ ?? Anat Co­hen, the Tel Aviv-born clar­inetist, played a set of con­tem­po­rary jazz on the open­ing night of the D.C. Jazz Fes­ti­val.
SHERVIN LAINEZ Anat Co­hen, the Tel Aviv-born clar­inetist, played a set of con­tem­po­rary jazz on the open­ing night of the D.C. Jazz Fes­ti­val.

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