If there were a pied piper of jazz, it would be a woman playing a clarinet as jazz fans happily followed her wherever she led them.
And that woman would be Anat Cohen, who led happy jazz fans through many styles of music Sunday afternoon during the second of her three weekend concerts in the Izzy Asper Jazz Performances series.
Cohen showcased her clarinet playing by starting off with the Artie Shaw tune, Nightmare, with its incessant piano and drums behind the horn and letting the audience know Cohen is the modern-day stalwart of the horn, seen less often as a front-line instrument.
Cohen delights in the music and in the performance by her bandmates: pianist Jason Lindner, bassist Joe Martin and drummer Daniel Freedman.
She played tenor sax for the beautiful piece The Wedding by Abdullah Ibrahim, and soprano for the world music/jazz workout All Brothers by Freedman. Brothers opened with Lindner playing prepared piano for an Eastern feel before the entire band cooked its way through the tune, especially Freedman on a terrific extended drum solo.
Cohen likes to mix instruments, as well. She and special guest Grégoire Maret, the Swiss harmonica player, had a blowout on a Lindner tune, Anat's Dance, with each taking a great solo before the instruments melded in an unusual but beautiful sound.
Maret conjured that European café feel on his own composition Lucilla's Dream, as well as reminding listeners of the great Toots Thielemans, the Belgian harmonica player who helped make it a jazz instrument.
Anat Cohen Quartet
Izzy Asper Jazz Performances
Sunday, March 10
4 1/2 stars out of 5