Israeli jazz musician again named top clarinetist


NEW YORK (JTA) — For the fourth year in a row, Israeli jazz musician Anat Cohen received the clarinetist of the year award from the Jazz Journalists Association.

The awards were presented earlier this month in New York City, where Cohen has been based since 1999.

Cohen, who plays the clarinet as well as the tenor saxophone, is known for her versatile range. In 2007, the Tel Aviv native was the first woman and the first Israeli to headline the famed New York jazz club the Village Vanguard.

Cohen told JTA that the association’s recognition carries a responsibility to carry on the legacy.

“She’s a strong player who is playing an instrument not many women play,” jazz critic and educator Howard Mandel, the president of the Jazz Journalists Association, told JTA. Mandel says Cohen is bringing attention to a challenging and little-known instrument.

In Israel, Cohen packs concerts and and is played often on the radio, according to Amikam Kimelman, academic director of Israel’s Rimon School of Jazz and Contemporary Music. Cohen’s achievements and her rapport with audiences are widely known in Israel, and she serves as a role model for young musicians, Kimelman told JTA.

Raised in Tel Aviv in a musical family, Cohen and her siblings, Yuval and Avishai, are highly acclaimed jazz musicians who have played and recorded together as the Three Cohens.

Her 2008 recording "Notes from the Village," which included several of her own compositions as well as tunes by Fats Waller and others, won high praise from critics. Her latest CD, "Clarinetwork," was recorded live in 2009 from the Village Vanguard as a centennial tribute to the swing-era musical giant Benny Goodman.

Cohen is scheduled to perform at the Newport Jazz Festival in August.

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