[JPL] A Family That Plays Together, and a Jazz Legend

r durfee rdurfee2003 at yahoo.com
Mon Dec 3 18:43:29 EST 2007

December 2, 2007
A Family That Plays Together, and a Jazz Legend 
3 Cohens

There’s such a thing as a family sound, and the
musicians calling themselves the 3 Cohens have it. The
tenor saxophonist and clarinetist Anat Cohen, the
trumpeter Avishai Cohen and the soprano saxophonist
Yuval Cohen — originally from Israel and now all part
of the New York jazz world — weave their lines through
“Braid” (Anzic), a straight-ahead jazz record with
Latin and Middle Eastern tinges. (The rhythm section
is first-rate: Aaron Goldberg on piano, Omer Avital on
bass and Eric Harland on drums.) Over the past few
years, 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-limits
trumpet sounds with tireless fluency; Yuval has a full
and relaxed sound on the soprano. The arrangements are
good, but the record is best when they strain against
the composed lines and babble together in intuitive
counterpoint. It makes a strong case for each of them
individually, but it’s a surprisingly good band record

Horacio (El Negro) Hernandez

The revered Cuban drummer El Negro Hernandez has
become an American citizen, but his all-Cuban jazz
band, Italuba, can’t play in this country because of
United States sanctions against Cuba. So unless you
can see the band in Italy, where it is based, you’ll
have to make do with its albums. The second, “Italuba
II,” is athletic, sentimental and modern, with complex
rhythmic latticework and some intriguing lines; aside
from Mr. Hernandez’s hard and impressive performance,
the young trumpeter Amik Guerra stands out as a
musician to watch. Italuba’s record is one of several
releases from the new Venezuelan label Cacao Música,
founded by the drummer and broadcaster Omar Jeantón,
as well as a more surprising supporter of Latin jazz:
Bobby Abreu of the New York Yankees. 

Alemayehu Eshete

The great “Éthiopiques” CD reissue series rolls on,
cataloging the astonishing breadth of music from
Ethiopia. Volume 22, released by the French label Buda
Musique, features the singer Alemayehu Eshete, a
light-voiced but intense singer who was popular in the
late ’60s and early ’70s and who has figured in
earlier series releases. (The overthrow of Haile
Selassie’s government by a military junta in 1974 put
the skids to his recording career and the youth
culture of Addis Ababa.) These recordings, made from
1972 to 1974, are funk and pop through a dusty looking
glass, with pentatonic scales, lean guitar lines,
bitter organ chords, horn-section responses to Mr.
Eshete’s sung lines, and fascinating vamp sections.
With some songs, you can kid yourself into thinking
they’re copies of American pop, but then the music
takes a turn and becomes something your ears probably
aren’t used to.

Dewey Redman

It will take a while longer to properly gauge the
importance of the saxophonist Dewey Redman, who died
last year at 75. Many people know him as a kind of
extension of Ornette Coleman, his friend and
collaborator. (He was an unknown musician before Mr.
Coleman hired him for a stretch in the late ’60s and
early ’70s, and he later spent 11 years in Old and New
Dreams, a band of Coleman sidemen who played a lot of
Coleman compositions.) And he did get Mr. Coleman’s
idea of melody-to-melody improvising under his
fingers, but he had many other things: a generous
blues language, a broad and serious (and almost
Coltrane-like) ballad sound, profound free-jazz
energy, bebop discipline and a really coherent sense
of narrative. This is a lot for one musician to have,
and all of it was in abundance on “The Struggle
Continues,” a record from 1982 that ECM has just
released on CD for the first time. Boy, is it good,
and ripe for rediscovery. 


Roy Durfee
P.O. Box 40219
Albuquerque, New Mexico 87196-0219
rdurfee2003 at yahoo.com

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