This week I had the pleasure of attending a recital given by this extremely talented quartet of swiss-latino saxophones who boast the palindromic name of "saXas". The ensemble played jazzed-up versions of La Danza, Historia del Tango and Suite Hellenica among others.
Mélanie Clivaz, founder of the ensemble and alto saxophone player, is hypnotic. While performing the Suite Hellenica I could just imagine this delicate pale woman in a void in which she shined like a dancing glass ballerina. Her counterpart, baritone sax player Christophe Depierre, has to be the most unlikely swiss I've ever seen. At times it seemed he was ready to stand up and dance to the melodies. By contrast, the latino Diego Sossa, tenor saxophone, seems to be the quiet and "down to business" member of the group (although I might be wrong, his bandmates did call him "Keyser Söze" after all lol). He's a serious performer who executed the pieces perfectly every time. His fellow latino performer, Mauricio Salamanca, embodies the quartet's cheerful disposition. Mauricio is a hilarious character, as soon leading the ensemble with his colorful rendition of the soprano sax or seeming genuinely confused by the lenght of a given partitura.
For the evening, Mauricio was given the role of introducing the audience members to the different works being performed. I think my favorite story had to be the one regarding the last piece played, Phillipe Collet's "Poor Elise", a variation on Beethoven's famed opus, inspired by Collet's dismay at a music student who practiced Für Elise constantly only to debase the piece with every attempt. Hence the name of the work "Poor Elise", who had to withstand so much musical desecration before coming to life as a lovely tune which, curiously, reminded me of the Pink Panther's theme song at times.
All in all, saXas was able to deliver beautifully. The perfect mix of passion, joy and musical prowess, this clever and unpretentious quartet is definitely a must see if by some miracle they happen to be playing wherever you live.