Saturday, June 15, 2013

Anat Cohen Wins Holland Music Award

Awards Keep Piling Up for this Talented Jazz Artist

Anat Cohen has taken the jazz world by storm since her arrival from Israel to the United States in 1999. She's an extraordinary musician who has the technique, yes, but always plays with plenty of heart. Always joyous. She's been winning awards in magazines and from the Jazz Journalists Association and they keep piling up.

Anat travels to the Netherlands in July for the North Sea Jazz festival, a fantastic three-day event at a venue called AHOY on Europe's largest seaport, July 12-14. She is the winner of this year's Paul Acket Award given by the festival and to artists deserving wider recognition for their extraordinary musicianship. Past winners include pianists Craig Taborn and Stefano Bolani, trumpeter Christian Scott, and guitarist Adam Rogers.

Cohen will play with her quartet and also sit down for an interview with jazz journalist Dan Oulette before a live audience.

[Anat Cohen at the Newport Jazz Festival, 2012., © R.J. DeLuke]

She plays all the saxophone, except baritone, but is known for her ferocious clarinet playing, having won the Jazz Journalists Association's Clarinetist of the Year award seven times in a row. Personally, I love the way she wails on the tenor sax. She was fabulous last year at the Newport Jazz Festival, playing with her two brothers, trumpeter Avishai and saxophonist Yuval in the band aptly named the Three Cohens.

The North Sea Fest is a fabulous event featuring great bands in all kinds of genres: jazz, blues, rock, pop, soul. It goes on at 13 stages simultaneously from about 5 in the afternoon until 1 in the morning, or a bit later. It will be a pleasure to see Anat overseas, part of a wonderful lineup that includes Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, Joe Lovano, Branford Marsalis, Sting, Bonnie Raitt, Santana, Diana Krall, Steve Swallow, Robert Glasper, Ron Carter, Eliane Elias and many, many more.

It's not an easy venture from the U.S., but hardly impossible (many from the U.S. attend each year) for people who want to immerse themselves in a weekend of great music. The food and atmosphere are equally fine. The city of Rotterdam is a very hip place; friendly and fun.

Think about it ... even if it's next year.

And congrats once again to Anat Cohen!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Brubeck To Join Walk Of Fame in Saratoga

Dave Brubeck played the Jazz Festival in Saratoga 13 different years, far more than anyone in its 35-year history

The Saratoga Performing Arts Center in Saratoga Springs, NY, has hosted a world-class jazz festival since 1978. Invented by George Wein--an icon who invented the music festival, most famously the Newport Jazz Festival (though that only scratches the surface for his accomplishments)--it has had appearances by nearly every jazz legend. Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, Dexter Gordan, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Carmen McRae, Shirley Horn, Count Basie, Jack DeJohnette, Ray Charles, Wayne Shorter and more.

No one played the festival more often than Dave Brubeck, who first appeared at the second edition in 1979 and last appeared in 2009--a total of 13 years. He was a close friend of Wein and close to the hearts of legions of music lovers around the globe. Brubeck died last December, one day shy of his 92nd birthday.

[Dave Brubeck Quartet plays the jazz festival in Saratoga in the 1980s. Chris Brubeck is on bass. © R.J. DeLuke]

A few years back, the people at SPAC started a Walk of Fame. Similar to the famous one in Hollywood, it immortalizes some of the important people in the facility's history with a star, emblazoned with the honoree's name, placed on one of the walkways at the performance venue. SPAC hosts all kinds of musical performances. It's first jazz honoree was Wein in 2011. And on Sunday, June 30, at Freihofer's Saratoga Jazz Festival, Brubeck will join that group.

The ceremony is scheduled for 4:40 p.m.

It will be held on a day when a couple other old-timers will be doin' it on the main SPAC stage--86-year-old crooner Tony Bennett and 76-year-old blues legend Buddy Guy. Brubeck was 89 when he last performed at the Saratoga festival.

Brubeck's career is truly legendary and he has been honored in numerous fashions over the years, thankfully. He actually last played in Saratoga in 2011, as a guest with the band Triple Play, led by his son, Chris Brubeck. He left to a roaring ovation. Wonderful, because it was to be his last public performance.

Brubeck logged so many miles, did so many gigs, won over people in so many countries, played so many notes. And he was special to SPAC and the audiences that faithfully flock to the event every year.

That star with that name will be special.

[Rumor has it Rudresh Mahanthappa, the wonderful musician who was named Jazz Journalists Association's Alto Saxophonist of the Year, will received his award from the association on Saturday, June 29, the day he will play two sets].