Clockwise from top-left: Patrick Kunka, Clinic@MAI, Alan Benzie & Dylan Coleman-Tunstall, PKQ signing CDs, Leah Gough-Cooper, PKQ@Le Blitz (Photos by sSkau)

… With a schedule like this one you’d have to really love what you do for a living, and these guys certainly do. You see it in the way they conduct business, their eagerness, professionalism, and interaction within the group, the media, and others, on stage and off stage. The Patrick Kunka Quartet (PKQ) had just concluded their own late-summer European tour before jumping onto this one which put them through some kinda routine. Mind you, they’re accumulating homework back in Boston and running into Berklee midterms as soon as they return. Hey, that’s like working two separate full-time jobs in separate continents; simultaneously (literally at the same time, across time zones). Forget about 9-5; the last three days, from pick-up to drop-off, ran from 10:30am – midnight, 2pm – 2:30am, and 3:15 – 1am.

NJP had scheduled community outreach stops for the festival artists, so our group visited the Center Hospitalier Saint Charles in the city of Toul, prior to going on to the club Le Blitz for set up, sound check, and the evening performance. Le Blitz was a small venue but offered the typical intimate club scenario. It was crowded, loud, energized, and the crowd actually overflowed such that they found space to hang out and listen from cafes and bars across the street and the alleys surrounding Le Blitz. As you can see in the Le Blitz photo above, the club was also packed with media folk from TV, newspapers, magazines, and NJP.

The group also conducted a two part clinic at Music Academy International (MAI), where they dissected one of Patrick’s compositions, the Edge. Part one of the workshop focused on rhythmic structure of the melody and the ensemble arrangement to highlight swing, forward motion, polyrhythms, and alternate approaches with specific segments in the composition. Part two focused on improvisation with harmonic considerations and motivic development.

Over the next two days, the venues became larger, with larger stages, sound systems, and audiences. The quartet became more interactive with the audiences, on and off stage. Patrick and the group were beginning to revive the otherwise dormant French language skills they had studied and developed back in their younger days. This also opened up the lighter side of the interaction between stage and audience during the concerts. Following the concerts, the quartet began meeting the concert goers, and now, regularly signing their posters and CDs for fans. This group currently has two CDs on sale. One is “The Edge” by the Patrick Kunka Quartet, and the other one is a jazz fusion recording “Future Pop” by Leah Gough-Cooper’s band called Human Equivalent (including Patrick and Alan from PKQ). This group is gathering momentum as this week progresses. They are very much in the moment, very present, tuned to potential opportunities and possible pitfalls, but above all, enjoying every moment and more importantly, really coming through, every day, in a big way.

Stay tuned for at least one more from Nancy Jazz Pulsations and the Patrick Kunka Quartet.
– sSkau