By Frank Alkyer | Published April 2015
Clarinetist Anat Cohen has always been a world musician, bringing sounds from around the globe into her style of jazz. OnLuminosa, she expands on these eclectic musical passions to deliver a beautiful, 11-tune album. Cohen sets the scene with her touring band—Jason Lindner on keyboards, Joe Martin on bass and Daniel Freedman on drums—then sprinkles in Brazilian musicians from her new band Choro Aventuroso and tops it off with guest spots from guitarists Romero Lubambo and Gilad Hekselman as well as percussionist Gilmar Gomes. And the results are stunning. Cohen continues her exploration into the music of Milton Nascimento, including three tunes he is known for, on this outing. “Lilia” has a beautiful loping groove. “Cais” is a gorgeous ballad with Cohen displaying her dedication to a full, rich tone on bass clarinet while Lubambo brings South American elegance with his nylon-string guitar. The two return later to deliver a heartbreaking rendition of “Beatriz.” Special mention has to go out for Lindner on the first two of these songs. If there’s anyone playing more interesting, tasteful piano in music today, please let me know. And another special mention has to go out to Martin on the second two of these tunes. His arco work on these ballads is as deep and chill-inducing as anything I’ve ever heard. There are so many elements of this album that display why Cohen is one of the true masters of instrumental music today. One of them is a good sense of humor. Her take on Flying Lotus’ “Putty Boy Strut” is a hoot. She notes that Lindner brought the tune to the band, and she got into the concept of making acoustic instruments imitate electronic music. Then her own “Happy Song” breezes along like a top-down ride along the Pacific Coast Highway. Another is her love of “aventuroso.” Luminosa includes two choro-inspired creations. “Ternura” takes you to another time and place with Vitor Gonçalves on accordion, Cesar Garabini on seven-string guitar and Sergio Krakowski on pandeiro. “Espinha De Bacalhau” is a take-your-breath-away daredevil packed with amazing musicianship. And that’s another element that makes Cohen and Luminosa so damned good. Her dedication to craft is fantastic. And she surrounds herself with world-class players. Sounds simple, but it’s so hard to execute. That’s why Anat Cohen and this recording are luminous in any language.