Anat Cohen at the Berklee Performance Center on New Year's Eve


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First Night Boston, Berklee College of Music, and WGBH 89.7 present Anat Cohen, performing at the Berklee Performance Center on New Year's Eve, Thursday, December 31, kicking off NPR's annual worldwide broadcast, Toast of the Nation. The concert is a centerpiece of this year's First Night Boston festival. Entrancing audiences on both clarinet and saxophone, Berklee alumna Cohen is one of jazz's brightest young stars. She recently completed a week-long engagement at the legendary Village Vanguard in New York, and was named Clarinetist of the Year by the Jazz Journalists Association. Her quartet features Jason Lindner on piano, Joe Martin on bass, and Daniel Freedman on drums.

Virtuoso jazz violinist Ben Powell performs the first set of the evening at 6:30 p.m. Powell, a 2009 Berklee graduate, leads a group that includes Cedric Hanriot on piano, Bruno Raberg on bass, and Bob Tamagni on drums. Each of the three performances will be seated separately. The Berklee Performance Center is located at 136 Massachusetts Ave., Boston, MA. Please call 617-747-2261 for more information.

New Year's Eve 2009 marks the sixth consecutive year that Berklee, WGBH 89.7, and NPR have collaborated to kick-off the live holiday special Toast of the Nation. Heard on more than 200 NPR affiliate stations and NPR Worldwide, Toast of the Nation begins in Boston and will move across the country, with live celebrations from John Pizzarelli in Washington D.C., The Bad Plus in New York, Irvin Mayfield Quintet in Minneapolis, and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy in Los Angeles.

For a full schedule of performances, and to find local participating NPR stations, please visit wbgo.org/toast. Hosted by Eric Jackson of WGBH s Eric in the Evening, the concert can be heard locally on WGBH 89.7 FM. Toast of the Nation is produced for NPR by WBGO-FM, Newark; WGBH Radio produces the Boston portion of the broadcast.

A native of Tel Aviv, Israel, Anat Cohen was introduced to music early by her talented brothers, and began her clarinet studies at age 12. She learned to play the tenor saxophone at 16, graduated from the prestigious Thelma Yelin High School for the Arts as a jazz major, played tenor saxophone in the Israeli Air Force Band, matriculated to Berklee, and began playing in New York in 1999 with various Brazilian ensembles. There, she established herself as one of the primary talents of her generation, both on the tenor saxophone and clarinet. Cohen has performed for countless audiences in the city, including at the Village Vanguard in 2007, where she was simultaneously the first female reed player and the first Israeli to headline at the club.

Cohen's albums have all received overwhelmingly positive responses. Her 2007 releases, Noir and Poetica, prompted the Washington Post to call her “one of the brightest, most original young instrumentalists in jazz, “ and the Village Voice to declare that the albums could “take her to the top." Cohen was named Clarinetist of the Year by the Jazz Journalists Association in both 2007 and 2008 - the first time in the history of the awards that an artist has earned top clarinet honors two years in a row. Her latest album, Notes from the Village, was called “the real deal" by the New York Times, and was awarded four stars by DownBeat magazine. The album, released in September 2008, is Cohen's fourth album on which she is the band leader. It features compositions written by Cohen herself, as well as her interpretations of songs by Fats Waller, John Coltrane, Sam Cooke, and Ernesto Lecuona.

Berklee College of Music was founded on the revolutionary principle that the best way to prepare students for careers in music was through the study and practice of contemporary music. For over 60 years, the college has evolved constantly to reflect the state of the art of music and the music business. With over a dozen performance and nonperformance majors, a diverse and talented student body representing over 70 countries, and a music industry “who's who" of alumni, Berklee is the world's premier learning lab for the music of today and tomorrow.

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