Happy Song (Anzic Records)

Anat Cohen Tentet

Released October 6, 2017

DownBeat Four-and-a-Half-Star Review






With the Tentet, “the aim was to create the smallest, most flexible large ensemble we could,” Oded Lev-Ari explains, “and I think the band really lets Anat be free in her playing and selection of repertoire – it’s an extraordinarily versatile band of musical omnivores, happy to go wherever the music takes them. The group’s balance between freedom and interactivity, individual expression and stylistic diversity – that mirrors Anat as a musician. Moreover, this band allows us to express our ideas about the inclusiveness, universality and openness of music, and how it should be a vehicle for connecting with listeners not just on the basis of genre and style, but on the basis of emotion and feeling.

Track Listing:

1. Happy Song 03:57

2. Valsa Para Alice 04:42

3. Oh Baby 08:36

4. Anat’s Doina 12:16

5. Loro 06:51

6. Trills And Thrills 06:52

7. Goodbye 04:30

8. Kenedougou Foly 05:40


Anat Cohen: clarinet

Oded Lev-Ari: musical director

Rubin Kodheli: cello

Nadje Noordhuis: trumpet, flugelhorn

Nick Finzer: trombone

Owen Broder: baritone saxophone, bass clarinet

James Shipp: vibraphone, percussion

Vitor Gonçalves: piano, accordion

Sheryl Bailey: guitar

Tal Mashiach: bass

Anthony Pinciotti: drums

Recorded August 2016, at Avatar Studios, NYC, by Brian Montgomery

Mixed by Brian Montgomery

Mastered by Mark Wilder

Cover Artwork by Milton Glaser

Additional Design by Steve Skladany

Band Photo by Aline Muller

Produced by Anat Cohen & Oded Lev-Ari


On her first two releases of 2017, Anat Cohen’s open-minded musical outlook sent her on duet excursions into the music of Brazilian composer Moacir Santos (Outra Coisa) and her second collaboration with The Trio Brasileiro (Rosa Dos Ventos). The scope is more expansive on Cohen’s third album of the year, a recording that features the tentet she debuted in 2016. It is also her latest collaboration with Oded LevAri, who serves as the band’s musical director and chief arranger. Dipping and diving between eras, styles, cultures and musical personas, the material is meant to celebrate the clarinet’s place in history, although it goes just as far to celebrate Cohen’s propensity for taking off in melodic flight. Case in point is the ebullient title track and opener, a rebooted Cohen original that sets the pace for the rest of the album with its upbeat swing and bright tones. The track kicks off with a borderline New Orleans-trad vibe, courtesy of Cohen, offset by a rhythm section that tempts the tune Eastward. The evocative “Valsa Para Alice” circles Cohen back to her work with the music of Brazil before things heat up with the dance-floor ready swinger “Oh Baby.” The album’s most memorable moments arrive in non-stop succession after that, beginning with the three-part, klezmer-inspired “Anat’s Doina.” As the band embarks on a narrative built on a pair of Cohen compositions and one traditional tune, it unleashes a new wave of emotion and drama—it also entices the listener to see the whole piece performed live. Later, Lev-Ari’s “Trills And Thrills” shifts the mood completely with its uneasy, dissonant opening and ominous tones. Like a set of curtains ushering the listener into the meat of the album’s second act, the intro feeds a series of unexpected guitar licks—a welcome platform for the rock ethos of Sheryl Bailey. The album closes with a trip to Mali as the tentet embarks on Neba Solo’s “Kenedougou Foly,” a tune whose bounce-inducing beat stokes a whole new fire in Cohen’s performance. It’s the kind of ending that begs for a Happy Song sequel.

Jennifer Odell (DownBeat)