|Cohen’s musical style is a blend of influences from samba to jazz to klezmer.|
“I always try to surround myself with music and be part of as many projects as I can,” says award-winning Israeli jazz clarinetist and saxophonist Anat Cohen. She and her eponymous quartet will headline the annual Chazen Jazz Concert at Rockland Community College’s Cultural Arts Center on October 26 at 8 p.m.
Pianist Bruce Barth, guitar player Howard Alden, Joe Martin on bass, and Daniel Freeman on drums will back her. “We’ll have fun,” promises Cohen, whose appearance in Rockland was arranged by special request of sponsors Jerry and Simona Chazen.
Cohen stole a few minutes to speak by phone from her Manhattan home during a week when she was jetting to performances in several cities in California and Italy.
She regularly plays such top music venues as Jazz at Lincoln Center and the Village Vanguard, has been voted Clarinetist of the Year six years in a row by the Jazz Journalists Association, and was named 2012’s and 2013’s Multi-Reeds Player of the Year.
It is not easy to pinpoint Cohen’s musical style. Influenced by the international musicians with whom she learned at Berklee College of Music in Boston, she plays a unique blend of Brazilian choro and samba, classic New Orleans jazz, and swing, tinged with a hint of klezmer.
“Clarinet is often associated with certain genres, like swing or folk music,” she said. “I combine the old and new, using the clarinet as an expressive tool and not in one genre. I’m just happy that people are drawn to what I do.
“It’s a gradual process of adding things to my repertoire. Just collaborating with a new musician is enough to bring a new subtle flavor to my work.”
Earlier this year, New York Times columnist Joe Nocera described Cohen as “a terrific musician, fluid, full-throated, with a knack for creating beautifully crafted, even eloquent solos.”
In addition to her quartet, Cohen often makes appearances and recordings as a trio with her older brother, saxophonist Yuval Cohen, and her younger brother, trumpeter Avishai Cohen. The three siblings got their start in the Jaffa Music Conservatory in their native Israel, and each successfully auditioned for Berklee’s traveling representative in Tel Aviv. Cohen also played tenor saxophone in the Israeli Air Force band for her military service.
The Cohen siblings’ fourth collaborative album, “Tightrope,” was released this week. “We played at a sold-out concert at Carnegie Hall in February and we will be playing in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, in November,” Anat Cohen said. “When we play together, it augments the experience immensely.”
Albums featuring Cohen as a bandleader include “Place and Time,” named one of All About Jazz-New York’s Best Debut Albums of 2005; “Noir” and “Poetica” (2007); “Notes From The Village” (2008); “Clarinetwork” (2010); and “Claroscuro” (2012), which takes its title from the Spanish word describing the play of light and shade.
Following her Rockland gig, she is scheduled to appear in Knoxville, Tennessee, and she plans to be at NJPAC in Newark on November 7.
At the Chazen concert, the JCC’s award for lifetime achievement in the arts is to be bestowed on jazz pianist George Wein, founder of the Newport Jazz Festival and the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, among other outdoor music events.
“George Wein created unique, lasting festivals that have really left their mark on the American popular music scene,” JCC Rockland CEO David Kirschtel said. “He is truly a visionary in the business. The JCC is proud to honor him and that he will join us for this exciting jazz concert.”
Tickets to the concert, available from www.jccrockland.org, cost $25 apiece. Patrons who pay $75 will receive preferred reserved seating and are invited to a private dairy dessert reception following the concert.