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Hear Music From Two Frolicsome New Albums by Clarinetist Anat Cohen, In a Brazilian Vein

Shervin Lainez

Anat Cohen is a clarinetist and saxophonist with an irrepressibly buoyant sense of rhythm, and throughout her career she has had a special bond with the music of Brazil. That affinity takes center stage on two new albums: Outra Coisa, a duo effort with the guitarist Marcello Gonçalves, and Rosa Dos Ventos, with the choro ensemble Trio Brasileiro. She’ll release both on Anzic Records on April 28.

Outra Coisa is a repertory album, consisting entirely of songs by the influential Brazilian composer Moacir Santos, who died in 2006. The pieces — including classics like “Amphibious” and “Nanã (Coisa No. 5),” which Santos recorded on his Blue Note albums of the 1970s — were arranged for duo by Gonçalves. He features Cohen’s clarinet alongside his own seven-stringed acoustic guitar, achieving a velvety melancholy in the instrumental blend.

Credit Shervin Lainez
Anat Cohen and Marcello Gonçalves.

The orchestral qualities of Gonçalves’ fingerstyle work, and the deep sonority of Cohen’s low-register clarinet tone, are beautifully apparent in their version of “Coisa No. 1.” It’s a numbered track from the album Coisas, which was Santos’ monumental debut, released on Universal Brazil in 1965. (“Coisas” means “Things” in Portuguese, which casts this track in a Seussian light, as “Thing 1.”)

As for Rosa Dos Ventos — which translates to “Wind Rose,” a beautifully poetic term for a weathervane — it documents an ongoing collaboration between Cohen and Trio Brasileiro.

Credit Clara Angeleas
Anat Cohen and Trio Brasileiro.

The group, formed in 2011, consists of Dudu Maia on 10-stringed bandolim, Alexandre Lora on pandeiro and other hand percussion, and Douglas Lora on guitar. Specializing in choro, the popular Brazilian folk music with the lightsome cadence, they have one previous album with Cohen: Alegria da Casa, released on Anzic last year.  

The spirit of Rosa Dos Ventos is almost manically ebullient, as the musicians navigate all manner of melodic intricacies with breezy poise. Cohen contributes several compositions, and the rest are by her band mates. They recorded the album at Maia’s home studio in Brasília. Below, watch them perform a zippy track from the album composed by Maia and Lora, called “Choro Pesado” — “Heavy Choro.”

Cohen and Trio Brasileiro will be on tour for the entire month of May, crisscrossing North America before heading to Europe. (They’ll reach the Jazz Standard in New York on May 16 and 17.)

For more information about the tour and the new albums, visit Anzic Records.

A veteran jazz critic and award-winning author, Nate Chinen is editorial director at WBGO and a regular contributor to NPR Music.