Sunday, June 28, 2015

Introducing Anat Cohen (Excerpted from "Freedom of Expression: Interviews With Women in Jazz")

With the help of a wonderful copyeditor and a wonderful proofreader, I am pulling together over 350 pages of interviews and introductory material for what will be my first book, entitled Freedom of Expression: Interviews With Women in Jazz. We're taking our time to make sure the book is nothing less than spectacular, and there is still much work to be done. In the meantime, I would like to share with you some excerpts from the book. Each interview will be presented in a straightforward, Q&A format, so that the reader can "hear" each musician's story in her own words.

I hope you enjoy these previews of what will be a truly expansive, entertaining, and in-depth look at jazz and the musicians, specifically women, who are taking the music into the future.

Anat Cohen (clarinetist, saxophonist, composer)

From its very beginning, jazz, sometimes called “America’s classical music,” has drawn upon musical influences from around the globe. At the turn of the 20th century, dance music from Havana found its way into the syncopated rhythms of ragtime and the compositions of Jelly Roll Morton, Scott Joplin, and W. C. Handy. However, Cuban rhythms, each with its own clave pattern, were distinct from the triplet feel (or “swing”) that was a defining characteristic of jazz. Trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie’s 1947 collaborations with Cuban conga maestro Chano Pozo embraced these two distinct rhythmic approaches by layering “swung” and “straight” eighth notes to create the earliest recorded examples of Afro-Cuban jazz. In the decades after those first Afro-Cuban cuts, musicians continued to experiment with wild new hybrids of music that incorporated influences not only from Cuba and other South American countries, but from across Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Asia, Japan, and Indonesia.

And the debate as to what is or is not jazz continues! Even today, there are plenty of musicians who are quick to define jazz as “music that swings,” period, end of story. Music that does not swing is “world music” or “fusion” or any other number of alternately named genres. Perhaps what is more important is, as Moroccan singer Malika Zarra says in her interview for this book, “to be able to identify where things are coming from, and not be superficial.”

Israeli-born clarinetist and saxophonist Anat Cohen’s earliest experiences playing jazz were in the Jaffa Music Conservatory ’s New Orleans band, playing clarinet parts and the written solos from arrangements of recordings by the Original Dixieland Jazz (also “Jass”) band. In her interview, she describes how she fell “in love with the feeling of swing, which gave me so much joy and still gives me so much joy.” She would eventually continue her studies in the U.S. at the Berklee College of Music where she met students from other countries who, like her, were studying American jazz, but were missing their native homes.

“(Students) from South America, they started missing home,” says Cohen. “So they started to bring their folkloric elements into jazz. I started playing music for people who were writing music . . . that incorporated Brazilian, Argentinean, and Venezuelan rhythms. My rhythmic world just opened up because of that.”

In performance and on recordings, Cohen plays tunes in a thoroughly syncopated, classic New Orleans style, such as her slow-drag take on “La Vie en Rose” from her album Claroscuro, as well as classic and newly composed music built on Brazilian, North African, and South American rhythms.

Her latest recording, Luminosa, even includes an acoustic arrangement of electronic and experimental hip-hop artist Flying Lotus’ “Putty Boy Strut.”

“Jazz is world music,” says Cohen. “It’s an American art form that started here, but it welcomes all of these influences.”

Cohen welcomes these influences and, like many musicians interviewed in this book, is creating a truly global and multicultural form of jazz. And she’s only just getting started. . . .

Anat Cohen: Claroscuro - Long EPK from Anat Cohen on Vimeo.

No comments:

Post a Comment