The 3 Cohens went into this, their second album, with the advantage of having known one another all of their lives, which makes for a symbiosis other groups could only dream of. Saxophonist/clarinetist Anat Cohen and her brothers, soprano saxophonist Yuval Cohen and trumpeter Avishai Cohen (not to be confused with the jazz bassist of the same name), were all born in Tel Aviv, took to jazz, and ultimately became part of the New York scene. They're all constantly busy with their own projects (Anat alone released two albums simultaneously as a leader in 2007, the same year that this set was released), and Braid was the first chance they had to record as a family unit in four years. It's a triumphant follow-up. The years of practicing together and paying close attention to one another's individual styles pay off with a cohesiveness and unity of vision that are manifested in every track. Playing with the remarkably nimble pianist Aaron Goldberg, intuitive bassist Omer Avital, and powerhouse drummer Eric Harland, the 3 Cohens lock into a groove, alternating between bop forms and ballads, that allows for both tightly woven ensemble interplay and inspired individual statements. Each of the horn players prefers lyrical, resourceful flights that corral creativity and delight into concise packages, while Goldberg and the rhythm section keep the pace steadily until called upon to make their moves, which they do with grace and skill. The uptempo and giddy 6/8-time opening track, "Navad," begins subtly with the horns sans accompaniment, as if to make a grand statement that the siblings exist in harmony. Drums, bass, and piano kick in and the Cohens begin to assert their independence one by one. The freewheeling airy jam features writer Yuval's soaring soprano countering Anat's tenor saxophone and Avishai's trumpet, the three of them saying what's on their minds and then meeting up for a conference every so often. Another quick-paced highlight by Yuval is "Freedom," in which stellar unison horn work gives way to scorching solos first by Avishai and Yuval, then Goldberg. Not to be overlooked is Harland, who wails throughout without overstating himself until given the chance to explode, an opportunity he then takes ample advantage of. Not surprisingly, Middle Eastern flavors find their way into the compositions, but so too do Latin rhythms: Anat's "Tfila" wears a bossa nova coat, as does her "U-Valley" (a tribute to Yuval, it would seem), whose easygoing, loping melody takes a distinctively Spanish turn. "Beaches," Avishai's piano-based ballad, finds the Cohen trio (with Anat on clarinet, the only track here on which she plays her other favored instrument) gliding along smoothly in fits and starts — clichéd as it might sound on paper, the waves of sound and the flowing, carefree motion do reflect the eternally complementary, open relationship of ocean, sand, and air. One of Avishai's other numbers, the Latin-esque album-closing "Shoutin' Low," pulls out all the stops, nudging toward outré spaces about two-thirds in, then thinking better of it, deciding it doesn't need to leave the confines of the tune to get across its superb displays of musicianship of composition. The album's only cover is Jimmy Van Heusen and Johnny Burke's "It Could Happen to You," and it's also the only track on which the three blow unaccompanied throughout. Improvisational yet conversational, it's what happens when family members get together to catch up on the latest events in their lives — no one quite knows what the other is about to say but they all listen intently and excitedly, throw out a line or two when they have something to add, chuckle and weep among themselves, and walk that thin line between shutting out the rest of the world from their private chat and welcoming all who'd like to understand their language and become part of the family.