Quadro Nuevo: Odyssee, A Journey Into The Light

Quadro Nuevo is a German jazz quartet playing “Arabesques, Balkan swing, ballads, daredevil improvisations, the melodies of old Europe” with the lightness of the Mediterranean, as their website has it. They play jazz that is warm and easy, pleasant to listen to but played to a high standard.

This new album is inspired by Greek mythology – Jason and his Argonauts, Aeneas, Odysseus – but you can neither tell nor need to know that to enjoy this album.

Odyssee Calling opens and it’s a lively number with the music that clearly inspired the Greeks, ska reggae. Add some choppy guitar and it could be Special AKA. Andreas Hinterseher throws in a nice accordion solo.

Between the Waves is slower and has a Latin feel, much more late night jazz, with slow, smoky saxophones. Poseidon’s Revenge is rockier, Chris Gall opening on the piano before the sax comes in; there is an Eastern air to the piano but the feel is more rolling train than undersea deity with a pointy stick. There’s some really nice sax before the accordion reappears.

Ciclope Senza Vista Mare (Cyclops with no sea view?) changes tone a little: it’s as late night as Between The Waves but there’s more double bass and it’s got a more percussive feel. There’s more bass on the slow and dreamy Dionysos, though him being the god of wine that’s perhaps not a surprise.

And, Pull! speeds it all up again, Gall dropping a fast riff on the piano before a bassier sax comes in. This is one of a couple of songs that perhaps drift towards being a little middle of the road (Bob James springs to mind in a couple of places, though so does Barbara Thompson), its up-tempo nature saving it.

We’re not even half way through: Vulcano is slightly rougher, a marching beat with nice sax and urgent clarinet; My name is Circe is a gentle, shimmering song suggestive of sea and sand; Lullaby for Ikarus has what sounds like a didgeridoo at the start, morphing into slow jazz; it all ends on Swinging Odyssee, which is, as the name suggests, the quartet doing its best big band impression.

The music is light and slightly retro, but if your tastes range from ska to tango via some New Age chill-out, it’s well worth a listen. Go to quadronuevo.de to buy a copy.

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