Tuesday, March 23, 2010


Anat CohenAnat, forgive me for running the photo of you biting your clarinet. I want to let my readers know that although you’re a brilliant and accomplished musician you have a silly side. You're not uptight like some musicians that I know. Sunday afternoon, I had a ball listening to you and guitarists Howard Alden, the reigning king of the seven string guitar, kid around between tunes at the Detroit Groove Society's concert. For those unfamiliar with the DGS, it's run by Andrew and Diane' Rothman. They have concerts in the living room of their West Bloomfield home. Such renowned jazz musicians as pianist Geri Allen, George Cables, and Gerald Clayton have performed there. The Rothmans know how to put on a concert. It's first,class all the way.

I laughed when you jokingly directed Howard to keep the audience entertained while she refilled her wine glass. I bet it’s difficult to have a crowd laughing like crazy one moment, and dancing in their seats the next. Somehow, you and Howard managed to do that. If being a jazz musician hadn't worked out,you could've made a living as a stand up comic. I like when musicians don't have a set list mapped out, or have rehearsed before a performance. It leaves more room for improvising, and that's what jazz is mostly about, making something wonderful happen on the spot. It was neat how you and Howard warmed up the crowd opening with three Duke Ellington tunes. You guys covered a lot of ground, playing tunes by Fats Waller,Jelly Roll Morton, and Django Reinhardt.

You and Howard were a great duo. You mentioned you've performed with Howard off and on for two years. I would've guessed both of you have been a duo longer. Anat, you have a strong tone. On "Cry Me a River,"you had the roof of the house bouncing. After the first set, Andy had to open up every window on the first floor. You and Howard had the room smoking. You converted the elderly woman sitting next to me. Before the concert started, we chatted. She admitted to not being a jazz fan at all. She’s a friend of Andy's mom.She invited her to the concert. She accepted because she didn't have other plans. She left a fan Anat Cohen fan. She purchased a copy of your new album, which she planned to play on the drive home. At one point during the second set, you blew with such force, I thought you'd shatter every window in the house.

Anat, I enjoy the Rothman’s home concerts. I get to hear fabulous music in an intimate setting. I mingle with the musicians between sets, and dine with them after the concert. That never happens when I attend shows at jazz clubs, and concert halls in Detroit. I have to go through a lot to rub elbows with musicians. Management literally subjects me to a security check as if I tried to get permission to sleepover at the White House. The Rothman’s are welcoming. Andy always kids me about being late.

The first home concert I attended, I was over an hour late. It started at 8:00pm. I showed up and 9:00pm, and mistaking rang the doorbell while pianist Bill Mays was playing. Andy didn't bust my chops though. I never told him that I actually left my house at 6:00pm. I always head out early in case I get lost. I got lost,and it took me damn near three hours to find Andy's house.

Sunday, I arrived early, and Andy was shocked. He’s a nice guy and serious jazz fan. A few months ago,he sent me a copy of the Oliver Nelson classic "Blues and the Abstract Truth". He was out record shopping, and he knew I didn't have that album. He bought it for me. I believe he missed his calling. He's a lawyer, and I’m sure he's successful. He should've been a jazz historian. He can rattle off dates of classic jazz albums, and what musicians played on them like a baseball fanatic can recite stats of his favorite players. Anat, I was thrilled I had the chance to spend Sunday, afternoon listening to you and Howard swing and kid around.
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