The Musical Art Quintet
Nuevo Chamber (Classical Revolution Records, 2012)
Nuevo Chamber is a new album by San Francisco-based The Musical Art Quintet. The string ensemble performs a brilliant mix of chamber music and world music. On this occasion, The Musical Art Quintet presents pieces based on Argentine, Cuban and Nigerian music. Nuevo Chamber is the ensemble’s name for this new style of music that combines world music influences with chamber music.
The Musical Art Quintet is formed by classically-trained musicians who are also accomplished improvisers. The ensemble breaks the quartet mold by featuring five musicians who have backgrounds in salsa, Klezmer and jazz. The quintet is led by bass player Sascha Jacobsen, who composed most the material and provides a refreshing depth and rhythm to all the pieces. The rest of the group includes Anthony Blea on violin, Jory Fankuchen on violin, Charith Premawardhana on viola, and Shain Carrasco on cello.
Argentine tango is one of the musical forms included in Nuevo Chamber. This is not surprising since tango is one of South America’s genres that have become popular with classical musicians thanks to Astor Piazzolla’s work. “I discovered Tango here in San Francisco while playing with Guillermo Garcia and Adrian Jost of Trio Garufa,” says Jacobsen in the liner notes. “The rhythms and melodies of this country will inspire me for the rest of my life.” Other Argentine connections include milonga dance rhythms and the piece titled “Ombligao en Argentina.” This is a poem written by Avotjca, using Argentine slang. Avotjca recites the poem in spoken word format
What separates this string ensemble from others is that some of the musicians play additional instruments. Anthony Blea plays conga and bongos, adding hot Latin grooves to The Musical Art Quintet. Band leader Jacobsen plays guitar, keyboards and electronic beats in addition to bass. Guest musicians include Phillip Brezina on violin; Adam Scow on violin; Louis Pazner on cello; Edgardo Cambo non cajon, bongo, guiro, maracas; and Andoni Panici, voice.
The Musical Art Quintet was formed in 2008 in San Francisco’s Mission district during chamber music jam sessions every Sunday night at Cafe Revolution. “The Musical Art Quintet performances are unlike anything I have experienced before,” says Sascha. “We have been getting outrageous response from our audiences. They usually scream and yell and stand up. It really shocked me at first but I love it. Our demeanor on stage is not like a classical group. Except cello, we perform standing up and move around and egg each other on during solos. I might shout or grunt to give cues. The energy is much closer to a rock band, but the music is purely in the world music genre. I use rhythms from Cuba, Argentina, New Orleans, Africa, and mix them with our string ensemble sound, and sometimes use electronics to enhance a composition. The great thing about the group is that each of us can keep our individual identities. Each person has a unique skill set, sound and style of improvisation, and that makes it more interesting.”
Nuevo Chamber is a superb fusion of chamber compositions and global sounds by one of the emerging talents in the world music scene.