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By the time Artemis, an all-star ensemble, dug deep into the blues while trading solos during an encore performance of Billie Holiday’s “Fine and Mellow,” most of the Carnegie Hall audience was on their feet, cheering on the band. Each of these seven musicians — pianist Renee Rosnes, clarinetist Anat Cohen (who also played soprano saxophone), tenor saxophonist Melissa Aldana, trumpeter Ingrid Jensen, bassist Noriko Ueda, drummer Allison Miller and vocalist Cécile McLorin Salvant — has been celebrated for individual achievements. At Carnegie, they cohered under Rosnes’ musical direction to sound, by turns, authoritative and playful, locked-in and loose. This show, the group’s New York City concert debut, was both a statement of arrival and a promise of grander things to come.
Salvant was riveting, whether singing a version of Kurt Weill’s “Pirate Jenny,” from The Threepenny Opera, or delivering a tender interpretation of Stevie Wonder’s “If It’s Magic.” The concert began with an instrumental version of “Goddess of the Hunt,” which Miller composed to evoke the Greek mythological figure Artemis, the paragon of female power and compassion (known for keen focus and steady aim) for which this group is named. And yet the least remarkable fact was that everyone onstage was female. Of greater note was the group’s collective cohesion and its ability to move gracefully through many styles and moods while playing original pieces and a wide range of covers (including a cleverly reharmonized take on Lee Morgan’s “Sidewinder”), much of which will appear on its debut release, for Blue Note Records, due later this year. —Larry Blumenfeld