Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

Concert Review: The Megitza Quartet at Drom, NYC 1/28/09

Wednesday’s show by the genre-blending Chicago group the Megitza Quartet at Drom matched passionate intensity with innovation, roaring through an impressively varied series of arrangements incorporating elements of Balkan, Brazilian, tango and flamenco music. Frontwoman/bassist Malgorzata Babiarz used every bit of mystery she could summon from her dark contralto, with a subtlety that became all the more striking on the few occasions she reached back, turned up the volume and wailed. Acoustic guitarist Andreas Kapsalis showed off a fiery, lightning-fast, flamenco-inflected attack contrasting with accordionist Marek Lichota’s fluidly melodic runs while drummer Jamie Gallagher hung tastefully in the background, then rose to nail several split-second crescendos without a millisecond to spare.

 

They kicked off the set with a minor-key bossa nova number that morphed in a second into a rousing Balkan dance, Kapsalis pounding on the body of his guitar and delivering lickety-split yet surgically incisive flamenco fills. Their next song was a catchy dance tune that maintained the flamenco feel, like the Gipsy Kings for a more sophisticated (or more indigenous) audience. Babiarz then put down her bass as the band brought it down for a rather subdued, wistful take of the title track from their new cd Boleritza, building to one of the few dramatic vocal crescendos she took all night.

 

The most spectacular song of the night was a Kapsalis original, an open-tuned guitar instrumental titled Ethnic Cleansing. Chopping his chords furiously for a hypnotic, ringing effect, he built the song to a ferocious three-chord descending progression on the verse which was then interrupted by an equally hypnotic drum interlude. From there the band took it back for a long return trip through the verse and then that amazing chorus again. The crowd didn’t know what hit them.

 

Then Babiarz picked up her bass again for another dance number, vocalese swirling and blending with Lichota’s accordion. They breezed into a slinky, accordion-driven musette-inflected number that suddenly went doublespeed, and closed with a plaintive Polish folksong  – “This comes from the mountains where I come from,” Babiarz told the audience – that started rustic and haunting before a seemingly endless series of permutations, rising and falling without warning, fueled by a catchy bass hook played on the guitar. The band is currently on tour: Chicago fans can look forward to a free show on Feb 27 at the Chicago Cultural Center.

Advertisements

January 29, 2009 Posted by | Live Events, Music, music, concert, New York City, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments