Quadro Nuevo have come to be known for their eclectic sound, mixing Eastern European folk, Mediterrenean and oriental flavours, and improvisational elements of jazz into a unique music that transcends categorization (writes Stacy Thomas).
They brought these influences into full effect at the Passionskirche, Berlin, for a humour- and energy-filled evening of traditional Christmas music.
While transforming the basic melodies and sometimes chordless tunes of their Christmas set into a dynamic, soulful live show was challenging, says saxophonist Mulo Francel, the quartet had fun in the process.
“Christmas songs have very simple harmonies, normally, and we have to find a way to reharmonize them, make them interesting,” he said. “We are influenced by jazz music, so we improvise a lot.”
The four, who have been touring and playing as a group since 1996 when they were fatefully thrown together to write the score for a film that was never produced, have traveled extensively and played stages all over the world. Their travels have infused their music with their particular blend of styles, a sort of folk music with gypsy energy and a touch of free jazz. They brought these experiences to their Christmas show, which mingled classic European Christmas songs with deep Middle Eastern rhythms. The results were sometimes surprising, sometimes mesmerizing.
“In the concert we mixed Christmas tunes with songs from Antakya (Turkey), the first city where a Christian church was built,” said Francel.
Along with Francel, harpist Evelyn Huber, accordionist Andreas Hinterseher and percussionist D.D. Lowka played an evolving roster of rustic and inspired instruments, such as the bandoneon, accordion, mandolin and bouzouki among many others.
With their inventive takes on nostalgic classics, interspersed with humourous asides, thoughtful stories and one nod to ‘Charlie Brown’, Quadro Nuevo pleased not only their fans but also those who just came along for a dose of Christmas spirit.
– Quadro Nuevo “Bethlehem” das Weihnachtskonzert, Passionskirche Berlin
Author of this review Stacy Thomas, a journalism graduate from Vancouver, Canada, is an intern at JazzRadio