The best jazz groups are made up of kindred spirits, but the rare family band has
something more-an intuitive feel for each other that goes beyond words and gestures to a
kind of bred-in-the-bone telepathy. The 3 Cohens are that sort of uncommon collective, a
trio of siblings from Tel Aviv, Israel, whose sense of improvisational interplay is both
uncannily fluent and wonderfully, infectiously warm. Along with performing on stages the
world over, the 3 Cohens have three studio albums to their credit, the most recent,
Family, underscoring the fact that even with the individual careers each of the
Cohens pursue to increasing international success, there is something special about the
music the three make together.
"We can talk without talking," says Anat, the middle child. "Often, we don't even have to
look at each other onstage. We have such history together that we feel each other through
Yuval, Anat, and Avishai Cohen grew up in Tel Aviv under the same roof and in the same
schools, with the common environment helping to shape close musical tastes, approaches, and
ideas. Through the World Scholarship Tour, each of the Cohens received the means to attend
the Berklee College of Music in Boston, where they expanded their musical horizons.
Post-graduation, the trio formed a sextet and performed their original music at the Lodz
Jazz Festival in Poland. Since then, the 3 Cohens Sextet has ranged from acclaimed
appearances at the Tel Aviv Jazz Festival, Caesarea Jazz Party, and Givatayim Jazz Festival
in Israel to performances at the Tudo é Jazz Festival in Brazil, and the JVC and Portland
jazz festivals in the US. The 3 Cohens have also played top clubs in France, Italy, and
Australia, as well as the famed Village Vanguard in New York, where they performed a
week-long residency in 2009.
When not working together, each of the Cohens excel individually. Yuval, the eldest,
released his sophomore album, Song Without Words, with pianist Shai Maestro.
He recently won Israel's prestigious Landau Award for his achievements in jazz. In 2011,
Anat earned her fifth straight Clarinetist of the Year honor at the Jazz Journalist
Association Awards, and she won the 2011 DownBeat Critics Poll as Clarinetist of
the Year. A resident of New York City, Anat has toured the world with her quartet, playing
the Newport, Umbria, SFJAZZ, and North Sea jazz festivals, as well as the Village Vanguard,
where she recorded her fifth album, the live Clarinetwork, with rhythm mates Benny
Green, Peter Washington, and Lewis Nash. Avishai, the youngest Cohen and also a resident of
New York, played his own set at the 2011 Newport Jazz Festival, and he also tours widely
with the SFJAZZ Collective. The trumpeter has released several recordings, including 2010's
lauded Introducing Triveni with bassist Omer Avital and drummer Nasheet
Waits. He was also a Rising Star finalist in the 2011 DownBeat Critic's Poll
(Jazz Artist and Trumpet categories).
Coming back to the 3 Cohens after their individual experiences is a welcome thing for the
trio of musicians. Yuval points to how much fun it is for the siblings to play together,
simply "because we know each other so well and respect each other so much." For Avishai,
the family band "is probably closest to my heart," he says. "You get to create music with
incredible musicians whom you also know and love unconditionally."
The leadership role in the 3 Cohens "constantly shifts, with each us of taking turns as
leaders, depending on the tune and situation," explains Anat. "We're democratic about
things, so there is a moment for one to shine and the others to support. Because Yuval is
the oldest, it was natural for him to be the leading force early on, of course, and we were
comfortable following him. Now that we're adults with our own lives and careers, we each
bring our own influences, experience, and confidence to the group. It's an ongoing process
to say what we want to say as individuals and still incorporate repertoire into the group
that we all feel attuned to. But we work at it. It's a journey."
When the Cohens hang out with each other off the bandstand, "we are 100% siblings, with
all that implies," says Anat, with a laugh. "But we have gotten better over the years at
looking beyond our sibling relationships to treat each other as artists-whether that's not
being too familial in rehearsal or just not cracking each other up onstage too much. I do
think people can hear the love we have for each other, because it comes through in the
music. We share so much. To me, the sounds of the trumpet and the soprano saxophone are
really the sounds of my brothers, just as the sound of the clarinet for them is me. To keep
sharing our music onstage and in the studio is a gift."