So I’m getting on the plane to New Orleans, and there’s this tall woman with a tenor sax hanging over her shoulder. I always want to know what my fellow tenor players are playing, so I walk over and say, hey, what do you play? The woman turns back to me, perhaps a bit surprised that someone would ask at the airport, and says Balanced Action. I smile. She asks, “And you?” I tell her about my Couf Superba I. She seems amused. “Where is it? You going to New Orleans for Jazzfest without it?” “I’m going to listen. So who are you playing with?” “George Wein.” “And I’m sorry, I didn’t catch your name…?” “Anat. Anat Cohen.”
After hearing her Thursday, I don’t think I’ll forget that name anytime soon. Sorry, Daphna, but it looks like you’ve got competition in the woodwind crush division. Holy shit, Anat can play. Her flow almost had an effortless sound to it, especially on clarinet, but she could play that tenor too. Her sound ran rings around Randy Brecker, a giant on trumpet who just did not seem capable of holding his own with her. Such a talent. Damn!
Anat has called NYC home the last decade, and I’m shocked I never bumped into her at a late night jam at Small’s or elsewhere, and am ashamed I never heard her till now. She’s here in NY at Birdland, in DC, Boise, Anchorage, LA, and then back here for two weeks at the Village Vanguard at the the end of June to the beginning of July, the first week with her brothers and Aaron Goldberg and Greg Hutchinson, two monster players on piano and drums respectively, the second a Clarinet feature. Dear G-d, Yidden, see this woman. she’s a force to be reckoned with. More on her schedule on her web page.
What would Jazzfest be without the amazing gents in the New Orleans Klezmer Allstars rockin at the Fais Do Do stage? And rock they did on a fine shabbos, with some incredible tunes, including Klip Klop (a perennial favorite off “The Big Kibosh”). Folks were doing some ridiculous simcha dancing down in front, complete with folks getting lifted in festival chairs. Incredible. What they lack in website updating talents, they more than overcome in musical ability and energy they bring to stage (fellas, i kid, but if you tell us about the shows, we’ll go see them).
A special treat from them: Original co-founder Ben Ellman, the hardest working Yid of Jazzfest, was rocking it out on Tenor with the Klezmers.
How does Ben Ellman get the title of hardest working Yid at Jazzfest? Well, show me one that work harder. Wednesday Night: Midnite Disturbers (a crazy all star brass band, featuring folks from Galactic, Trombone Shorty, Big Sam, Bonerama, Skerik, and Shamarr Allen). Thursday night, Galactic, Friday Night, Midnite Disturbers, Saturday: NOKAS, Midnite Disturbers, Galactic. Dude was everywhere. Not that you could tell. Whether it was blowing klezmer, soloing in a brass band, or leading two other horns in galactic’s mind blowing rendition of Manic Depression, dude never stopped workin. Oh, and in his spare time, plays ridiculous harmonica too.
If I’m going to talk about Jewish woodwind players at Jazzfest, I would be remiss if I forgot the great Steve Berlin. The sax and keys playing anchor for Los Lobos was in fantastic form at the Gentilly Stage. I’m still waiting for a day when they really let Steve cut loose at the end of “That Train Don’t Stop Here Anymore” but every time i’ve heard it live, they end the solo pretty quick. The recording trails off with Steve destroying it but I always wonder what the rest of that solo sounds like.
Those three great Jewish woodwinds made me wish I’d brought my horn. Maybe next year… in the meantime, if you have a chance to see any of them, or Daphna for that matter, go support. They’re all amazing musicians worth seeing anytime.