Berklee Quartet Performs at Nancy Festival

Joseph Schwartz
January 7, 2008
Nadav Remez
Photo by alicia donnelly

Nancy Jazz Pulsations festival in France has been a spot for music enthusiasts to convene for the past 34 years. In October 2007, approximately 250 musicians took to the stage and attracted more than 100,000 visitors over the course of 15 days. The 150-plus concerts all took place in the area of Nancy and Lothringen. The festival itself is not only a great opportunity to be exposed to jazz in all shapes and sizes but also takes the audience on a trip through the history of music and culture. Among the multitude of music styles performed every year, you will find soul, rock, pop, blues, funk, hip-hop, gospel, electronica, world, and of course, jazz. This cultural diversity is represented in the artist roster spanning from the Algerian world musician Biyouna to George Clinton's old funk  brother Amp Fiddler, and lounge pop's leading lady Feist to the Neil Crowley Trio for a jazz highlight.

Berklee's first and foremost connection to this festival and the French music scene is Nancy's very own Music Academy International (MAI). The academy, which started out as a guitar-only program, has advanced to a full college-level institution over the last 25 years. By closely working with MAI, Berklee was able to send the Nadav Remez Quartet as musical ambassadors to France. The group features tenor saxophonist Matan Chapnizka (an eighth-semester performance major from Rosh-Pinna, Israel); guitarist Nadav Remez (eighth-semester performance major from Rishon Le-Zion, Israel); bassist Jeremy McDonald (sixth-semester professional music major from Corappolis, Pennsylvania); and drummer Hamir Atwal (fifth-semester professional music major from Antioch, California). Throughout its weeklong stay in Nancy, the quartet played at least one show a day, between concerts at the festival and MAI.

"Each show had its own distinct color," recalled Remez. "However, it was actually the smallest show that was the most fun for me, in the Woippy Music School. This was one of the shows that we did that was outside of the Nancy Jazz Pulsations festival or MAI. We played in front of some 50 kids, parents, and grandparents. Even though the show was less high-energy, like our other shows, it was constantly swinging hard and the audience, as well as us, had a lot of fun."

According to the quartet's feedback, its adventure to France was a great success and made for an unforgettable trip. "[It] was an amazing trip for myself," Atwal noted. "It taught me a lot about working with others and traveling with the same group for a whole week showed me how much a band can grow even in eight days of playing music every night. MAI was a great experience. I felt I made connections that I can use to my advantage in the future."

The students also enjoyed a warm reception for their performances. "The audience in France was the most special thing. They are open-minded by nature and embraced our music in a way that I consider ideal," said Remez. "The audience was immersed the music as much as we were, which contributed to all of our experience. One of the shows took place in a university where none of the students were musicians, and they were perhaps the best audience of the tour-their ears were virgin to this music, and their reaction to the music was the purest and most positive in my opinion."

Chapnitzky agreed, noting: "The audience in the Nancy area was so positive and supportive. On some of the shows we got standing applauses, on others just playing shouting. But, in all of them the vibe was great and super positive."

Throughout their travels in France, the four musicians where guided by MAI director Hans Kullock, Berklee's main contact. "Nadav Remez Quartet was amazing and talented, he said. "A music with interesting musical flavors and delicious nuances. They are great Berklee ambassadors."