NEWSPAPER: Aftenposten (Norway)
What makes a selected group of culture personalities gather together at
Jostein Gaarder's 'Caféteatret' on an otherwise quiet Thursday evening?
Many thanks to our friend, Geoffrey Snow,
for providing the translation.
JOURNALIST: TONE B. VÆRVÅGEN
Friday, 30th March 2007
PHOTOGRAPHER: CARL MARTIN NORDBY
Cohen came, rocked, and went.
Excitement fills the air, a lot more than is usual for a mini-concert such
as this. Everyone is waiting for a young jazz singer, Anjani, who is in
Norway to launch her second album, 'Blue Alert'.
Three elderly gentlemen enter the stage and position themselves behind their
instruments; double bass, guitar and piano. The lights in the room are
dimmed, and what everyone is really waiting for happens; Leonard Cohen walks
"About forty years ago I came to Norway for the first time. To this country
which, as can also be found in my songs, I have had a special relationship,"
he says. His hair is grey, shoulders stooped - and of course he's smaller
than one would have expected. But the voice, the voice is deep, gravelly and
still resonant. He introduces Anjani, who enters the stage to a storm of
Anjani is beautiful, tall and elegant, and she sits behind her piano.
"I found some lyrics thrown across his dining-room table," she smiles. "So I
played around with them a little and put them to music," she adds. It
resulted in the album 'Blue Alert', that Cohen has also produced.
Their partnership goes way back - she has also been one of his backing
singers. Together they have a son, Adam Cohen, also a musician with several
albums to his credit - based in Montreal. [Note: Anjani is not the mother of Leonard's son, Adam.]
"Twenty-two years ago I was in Oslo with Leonard. I felt privileged, because
I was able to wander around the snow-covered streets and drink hot cocoa
while he had to stay indoors and talk to the press," she humorously tells us
The music is jazz, of the laid-back 'smoothe' type. Her voice is clear, deep
and harmonic - and it's not difficult to imagine that it would blend well
with Cohen's. The man himself is sitting discreetly in a corner at the back
of the room. With closed eyes he rocks gently to the rhythm.
"This is our favourite song," says Anjani before 'Half the Perfect World' -
and the room becomes tense with anticipation. Is Cohen going to sing live
now, for the first time in so many years?
But no, he's caught a cold on his way over from LA. "You think it's warm
here now," she laughs, "but for me, who comes from Hawaii - this is cold!"
The public's welcoming response warms her anyway, because she removes her
jacket while on stage. Then the show is over. But thunderous applause brings
her back to perform one last melody. Laughingly she thanks the enthusiastic
public and says: "I've never heard of anyone giving an encore at a showcase
But Leonard has left the building.