Review: Mexican brass in the jewel box


Pablo Medina

M5 Mexican Brass played for the NEIU community on March 10, helping the audience discover the comedic side of music.

Pablo Medina, Editor

For every jewel in a box, there’s some brass to complement it. In The Jewel Box series, the M5 Mexican Brass performed on Mar. 10 for the NEIU community with its varied and colorful set list.

Led by the charismatic trumpeter Alexander Freund, fellow trumpeter Oscar Villegas Miranda, French hornist Juan Carlos Quiterio Miguel, tubist José Lopez Juárez and Roberto Carlos Cruz on trombone, M5 Mexican Brass had unique charms and wits to their theatric personalities. First Dancer of NEIU’s Ensemble Español Claudia Pizarro accompanied M5 for three songs..

With every set, the Mexican Brass Quintet amazed both in- and out- of music. Their solid entrances, well-blended tones and virtuoso techniques all were furthered by their lovable personalities. It was simply amazing seeing how little the members needed to speak to impress. They shined through their playfulness and recital.

Some personal favorites from their self-titled “Brasscinación,” a title Freund personally disliked, included the variations of “Der Alte Peter,” a folk song frequently adapted into song by some German and Austrian composers such as Wagner, Strauss and Mozart, respectively. The quintet’s renditions of “Michelle” by Paul McCartney, the St. James Infirmary Blues folk song, and Leonard Bernstein’s “Maria” from the play “West Side Story” suited the group’s style and sound with hints of Mexican motifs and spicy musical flavor.

Freund told a humble story about  his presence in the M5 Quintet.

“As you can hear, there is a suspicious German accent in the Mexican room,” Freund said. “I’ve worked on it for 30 years.”

Freund introduced each member of the band with a light-hearted comment of their fascinating upbringings and personal stories, and connected with the audience through planned and choreographed skits.

M5’s performance was well received with audience members . NEIU students Tyler Miles and Dmitri Snyder reflected on their impressions of the concert.

“I’m having a blast, it’s super fun. I love that they’re dancing, I like that they got Ensemble Español involved and their choreography is funny,” Miles said. “(Freund) is a wonderful teacher and comedian, and it’s funny that as he’s talking about the history, they do little gags on the side, it’s very cute.” Snyder highlighted the variations of “Der Alte Peter” as a noteworthy performance.

“I like that it was informative and fun. We got to see a journey of a little folk tune through the ages and that was enjoyable to watch,” Snyder said. “They have a fun charisma about them, and that’s what makes a good performance. You learn something, but you’re also enjoying yourself.”

M5 performed with an emphasis on comedy, sensation and movement. Every song contained an element that kept the stage and auditorium lively, as the music bounced from spot to spot with elegance. Coming back from the audience’s repeated standing ovations, the group delivered on four encores, with a mix of Latin-inspired themes, two solo trumpet stand-offs and an extra invitation for Pizarro to showcase her traditional dance moves on the stage.

M5 Mexican Brass showed its musical weight in brass and flourished in every quality with their adoring brotherhood of performers.