Berklee Quartet Takes Pulse of French Festival

Lesley Mahoney
January 12, 2009
The Berklee quartet Affinity (Michael Palma, Daniel Platzman, Jeremy Sinclair, and Dan Carpel)
Photo by Jason Camelio

A Berklee quartet got some valuable gigging experience while in France for the Nancy Pulsations Festival. The group, dubbed Affinity and led by trumpeter Jeremy Sinclair, performed in Nancy for the festival at the Music Academy International (a Berklee International Network partner school) and the Nancy Conservatory. The students also showed their musical prowess at the Metz Conservatory and a local arts high school, and also scored an impromptu chance to perform at a local bar, Hotel California.

For Sinclair and company—Daniel Platzman, drums; Dan Carpel, acoustic bass; and Michael Palma, piano—the October 2008 trip was a great way not only to experience music abroad but show their stuff. This marked the fifth year Berklee has made the trip to the festival.

"The music was great and the trip was a lot of fun," said Sinclair. "The best time we had was playing at the bar. It felt like we could be loose, like a normal jazz gig. We didn't rehearse much because we wanted it to sound fresh."

When the group did rehearse, it practiced the framework of the song (not solos), leaving a lot of room for freedom and improvisation, which allowed for maximum spontaneity during the gigs, Sinclair explained.

Palma and Platman wrote most of the compositions, and Sinclair contributed a song. "Mike was feeling the composing juices and just went with it," Sinclair said. The quartet's trip to Nancy followed a visit to Japan in August by Sinclair, Palma, and two other Berklee students. 

Jason Camelio, director of educational operations for Berklee's Office of International Programs, called the quartet "stellar," noting that not only did they perform each day of the trip, but engaged with students at each location. "They performed at an exceptionally high level, and the quality of the performances evolved night after night," he said.

Meanwhile, faculty and staff held auditions and clinics. Camelio credited Hans Kullock and his team at Music Academy International for providing Berklee with the opportunity to showcase its top student performers and faculty clinicians each year. One highlight of the most recent trip, Camelio noted, was that Carolyn Wilkins and Paul Del Nero presented clinics featuring material from their new books released by Berklee Press.