"To the ranks of the Heaths of Philadelphia, the Joneses of Detroit and the Marsalises of New Orleans, fans can now add the 3 Cohens of Tel Aviv." — All About Jazz
The best jazz groups are made up of kindred spirits, but the rare family band has something more – an intuitive feel for each other that goes beyond words and gestures to a kind of telepathy. The 3 Cohens are that sort of uncommon collective, a trio of siblings from Tel Aviv, Israel – tenor saxophonist/clarinetist Anat, trumpeter Avishai, and soprano saxophonist Yuval – whose sense of improvisational interplay is both uncannily fluent and wonderfully, infectiously warm. Along with performing on stages the world over, the 3 Cohens record together on Anzic Records, the most recent being the acclaimed Family that features the three Israeli horn players in league with pianist Aaron Goldberg, bassist Matt Penman, and drummer Gregory Hutchinson. Family underscores the fact that even with the individual careers each of the Cohens pursues to increasing international success, there is something special about the music the three make together.
"We can talk without talking," says Anat, the middle child. "Often, we don't even have to look at each other onstage. We have such history together that we feel each other through the music."
Yuval, Anat and Avishai Cohen grew up in Tel Aviv under the same roof and in the same schools, with the common environment helping to shape close musical tastes, approaches and ideas. The three studied classical music at the esteemed Thelma Yellin High School for the Arts, and the Jaffa Music Conservatory. While their backgrounds included symphonic orchestral playing, it was jazz that soon captured their imaginations. Through the World Scholarship Tour, each of the Cohens attended the Berklee College of Music in Boston. Post-graduation the trio formed a family sextet while concurrently forming their own bands.
Acclaim for 3 Cohens Sextet was immediate. From All About Jazz: "What gives 3 Cohens a certain edge is the simpatico they share, extending beyond merely being siblings; it involves all three sharing the common bond of music from an early age, and the kind of comfort level and intuition that can only come from playing together for many years. The result is a front line that finds pleasure in the subtlest nuances. While there are hints of their ethnic heritage, make no mistake – this music is clearly rooted in contemporary post-bop. . . Throughout, a joyfulness pervades these performances." The New York Times enthused over the group's "family sound" and "intuitive counterpoint" before pointing out the players' individual qualities: "Anat has emerged as one of the best clarinet players in jazz, with a warm and singing tone; Avishai can play bebop and ballad lines and outer-limit trumpet sounds with tireless fluency; and Yuval has a full and relaxed sound on soprano."
When not working together, each of the Cohens excels individually. Yuval, the eldest, recently won Israel's prestigious Landau Award for his achievements in jazz, and along with being a performer, he is one of his country's most sought after educators. In 2012, Anat earned her sixth straight Clarinetist of the Year honor at the Jazz Journalist Association Awards, and she won the 2011 DownBeat Critics Poll as Clarinetist of the Year. A resident of New York City, Anat has toured the world with her quartet. Avishai, the youngest Cohen and also a resident of New York, played his own set at the 2011 Newport Jazz Festival, and tours widely with the SFJAZZ Collective. The trumpeter has released several recordings and was a finalist in the 2011 DownBeat Critic’s Poll in the Rising Star: Jazz Artist and Rising Star: Trumpet categories.
The leadership role in 3 Cohens Sextet "constantly shifts, with each taking turns as leader depending on the tune and situation," explains Anat. "We're democratic about things, so there is a moment for one to shine and the others to support. Because Yuval is the oldest, it was natural for him to be the leading force early on, of course, and we were comfortable following him. Now that we're adults with our own lives and careers, we each bring our own influences, experience and confidence to the group. It's an ongoing process to say what we want to say as individuals and still incorporate repertoire into the group that we all feel attuned to. But we work at it. It's a journey."
When the Cohens hang out with each other off the bandstand, "we are 100% siblings, with all that implies," says Anat, with a laugh. "But we have gotten better over the years at looking beyond our sibling relationships to treat each other as artists – whether that's not being too familial in rehearsal or just not cracking each other up onstage too much. I do think people can hear the love we have for each other, because it comes through in the music. We share so much. To me, the sounds of the trumpet and the soprano saxophone are really the sounds of my brothers, just as the sound of the clarinet for them is me. To keep sharing our music onstage and in the studio is a gift."
The rhythm section of Bruce Barth, Vicente Archer and Obed Calvaire guaranteees to keep the music snap, crackling and popping for this terrific ensemble.
Anat Cohen – clarinet, soprano and tenor saxophones
Avishai Cohen – trumpet
Yuval Cohen – soprano saxophone
Bruce Barth – piano
Vicente Archer – double bass
Obed Calvaire - drums
Funding for South Florida JAZZ is provided in part by a grant from the Broward County Board of County
Commissioners as recommended by the Broward Cultural Division