3 Cohens, Family

Britt Robson

By Britt Robson

on 11.14.11 in Reviews

Since the previous 3 Cohens release in 2007, Anat (reeds) and Avishai (trumpet) Cohen have burnished their reputations with notable discs and concerts. The good news for Family is the breadth of talent and responsibility spread throughout the sextet. Yuval Cohen contributes two songs (the tail-chasing whirl-and-swing of “Rhapsody in Blake” and an incisive arrangement of “Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans?”) and holds his own on soprano alongside his more renowned sister and brother in the front line. The top-drawer rhythm section of pianist Aaron Goldberg, bassist Matt Penman and especially drummer Gregory Hutchinson are incorporated like kin rather than hired guns. Even special guest vocalist Jon Hendricks, whose advanced age can occasionally sabotage his range and timing, shines in safe but deft arrangements during “On The Sunny Side of the Street” and “Roll ‘Em Pete.”

Showing ambition and mastery of a wide range of materials

The other sterling virtue of Family is the sextet’s ambition and mastery of a wide range of material. Avishai’s “Shufla De Shufla” puts a slightly modern twist on vintage swing. Yuval’s ensuing blues gives the rhythm section well over two minutes to establish a dignified stroll. Then the band heads into the one-two punch of Avishai’s “With the Soul of the Greatest of Them All (Dedicated To Charles Mingus),” which indeed honors the rambunctious, cerebral Mingus with pulsing counterpoint and piquant harmonies; followed by a delightful cover of Ellington’s “The Mooch” — and, a few tracks later, a buoyant take on Anat’s splendid arrangement of another vintage bow to New Orleans, “Tiger Rag.”