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Anat Cohen, for All the World a Jazz Innovator

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From Dixieland to Klezmer, Her Scope Knows No Bounds

When Anat Cohen was growing up in Tel Aviv, she traveled around the city listening to Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald on her Walkman. She began to play the clarinet at 12, then joined a Dixieland band and embarked on what has become a lifelong cross-cultural journey.

In the years since, Cohen has emerged as one of the brightest, most original young instrumentalists in jazz, playing saxophone and clarinet in no fewer than seven working bands and almost as many styles, from Brazilian music to Dixieland to modern jazz. Last month, she released two outstanding albums, each showing a different side of her musical personality.

“I don't know what is the music I enjoy most because I enjoy all of them," says Cohen, speaking from her home in New York. “I like variety. It keeps things interesting."

For six years, Cohen (whose first name is pronounced a-NOT) has played tenor saxophone with Diva, the stellar all-female big band that performed last year at the Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Festival at the Kennedy Center. This week, she brings her own quartet to the Kennedy Center's Terrace Theater as the Friday night headliner at the 12th annual festival, which runs Thursday through Saturday. A week later, she'll be back in town, appearing at the Smithsonian Jazz Cafe at the National Museum of Natural History with guitarist Howard Alden.

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