If you are one of those anal personalities that needs to have your music fit snugly into precise categories, Popzzical, the new Quattro album, will drive you nuts. The dozen tracks on the album run the gamut from modern rearrangements of classical music to Latin American pop and contemporary jazz. There are instrumentals and there are vocals, sometimes in Spanish, sometimes English. Simply put, Quattro is a unique group that refuses to be cubby-holed.
There was a time when an album that defied categorization would have been the kiss of death for a band. In the age of the record store, when albums were stocked according to genre, where would it go? How would customers find it? What would they ask for? And if you wanted Latin pop, there was no guarantee you also wanted a new version of a theme from a Vivaldi concerto. On the other hand, in the age of iTunes and the MP3, where you can buy the individual songs you like, it may well be another story. And with any luck, listeners who like the Latin pop may discover that the Vivaldi isn’t all that bad. After all, good music is good music.
The four members of Quattro are cellist Giovanna Clayton, guitarist Kay-Ta Matsuno, violinist Lisa Dondlinger, and percussionist Jorge Villanueva. All four are credited with vocals. The music is either composed and/or arranged by members of the band.
If your taste in music is eclectic, there is a lot to like in Popzzical. Two of the three classical rearrangements, “Fusion” (based on “Summer”) and “Obsesion” (based on “Winter”), two of the movements from Antonio Vivaldi’s The Seasons, are the kind of popularization of classical music that may have serious music fanatics tearing their hair on the one hand, but may well garner some new listeners who get to hear it for the first time and like what they hear. The same would be true for “Solstice,” which is based on Fritz Kreisler’s “Preludium and Allegro,” and features Dondlinger’s sweet violin. Matsuno adds some interesting work on guitar. All three pieces emphasize the quartet’s consummate musicianship.
“Good Day” is a jumpy pop rock tune that seems to have absolutely nothing to do with the rest of the songs on the album. It’s a fun tune with sweet harmonies. “Mi Conguero” shows the band’s electricity when it comes to Latin American music. Indeed, you can hear it in all the Latin selections, even ballads, whether in Spanish like “Intacta” or even in English, as in the haunting “Baila.” Matsuno’s jazzy licks on “Hana Bi,” on the other hand, take the band in a different direction and make for a dynamic close to the album.