Music

Nu Deco Ensemble Puts Modern Spin On the Traditional Orchestra

Written By Rebekah Lanae Lengel
October 15, 2023 at 7:43 PM

Nu Deco Alex Markow Jacomo Bairos

Miami-native Jacomo Bairos conducts Nu Deco Ensemble in April of 2023 at the North Beach Bandshell. Nu Deco opens its ninth season Saturday, Oct. 21 at New World Center. (Photo courtesy of Alex Markow)

Sam Hyken and Jacomo Bairos co-founded Nu Deco Ensemble in 2015 as a 21st-century orchestra celebrating living composers, reimagining all musical genres and collaborating with guest artists — many of whom had never worked with a live orchestra.

As they embark on their ninth season, they remain as dedicated and focused on the music as ever. They have a major label CD release with Sony, national touring opportunities, and a vibrant youth ensemble. Nu Deco’s even gone viral online becoming introduced to a whole legion of new audiences when a clip of its 2018 Outkast Suite was shared on hip-hop social media accounts.

For the ensemble, the record label deal was a big moment, too, according to Bairos.

“It allows us to really put our sound out there in the way we believe it should be put in and the way it sounds, but it’s being backed by this big major label, so it’s like a signal for the world. ‘Hey, these guys have arrived. Like it or not, they’re here. They’re making some noise.’ ”

Tank and the Bangas singer Tarriona “Tank” Ball performs with Nu Deco Ensemble in May of 2021 at the North Beach Bandshell. The band joins Nu Deco again on Saturday, Oct. 21. (Photo courtesy of Alex Markow)

Nu Deco kicks off its ninth season on Saturday, Oct. 21 at New World Center with a show that will include an original commission from previous collaborator pianist Aaron Parks, and the return of another collaborator, the Grammy-nominated New Orleans band Tank and the Bangas, in a concert that Bairos describes as a true celebration of Americana.

“We have a rich musical history in this country that encompasses everything from classical to jazz to funk to hip hop to spoken word. It’s a very creative melting pot that this country has produced. And I think this concert is really highlighting that eclectic stew of artistry and creativity and stylistic differences.  It’s everything from brand new relevant music to timeless, Pulitzer Prize-winning classics.”

Tank and the Bangas, a band acclaimed for their musicality and live performances, will join the orchestra for a second time, having first performed in 2021 with Nu Deco.

“Their music is infectious,” says Bairos. “Tank herself, is a genius. She’s a poet, she’s a singer, she works a room like you can’t believe.”

Bairos says that Tank and the Bangas front woman, Tarriona “Tank” Ball has a talent for connecting with her audience primarily how she taps into important issues in what he says is an authentic and powerful way.

“ . . .The ways she discusses female empowerment, Black empowerment, Black female empowerment, musical empowerment through the Black lens. It’s just endless.  . . . (The band) just knows how to do it in a way that’s like really fun and really approachable.”

Nu Deco Ensemble, was founded by Jacomo Barios, pictured, and composer, arranger and producer Sam Hyken in 2015. (Photo courtesy of Alex Markow)

Ball, fresh from an Emmy nomination for her hosting of the PBS show “Ritual,” is no stranger to collaboration, having worked with the Chicago Symphony and Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, even if it wasn’t part of her original plan.

“It’s something that came along accidentally,” she reveals of her collaborations with orchestras. “I would have never expected that anybody would have wanted these little poems and little quirky songs to be accompanied by an amazing orchestra. It’s shocking every time you hear that they took the time to do this. It makes the magic even more magical.”

New Orleans’ Tank and the Bangas returns to the stage with Nu Deco Ensemble at New World Center on Saturday, Oct. 21. (Photo courtesy of Nu Deco)

The band is coming up on its own 10th anniversary. For the Nu Deco Ensemble concert, songs from its latest Grammy-nominated album “Red Balloon,” will be on the setlist. A deluxe version of the album is expected to be re-released in December.

On working with Nu Deco, Ball says, “The arrangements were such a fresh take on everything.  I love when I go inside of a situation; I don’t really know what’s about to happen but I get excited once it’s really happening.”

The rest of the Nu Deco season will include collaborations with guests Joy Oladokun, St. Paul and the Broken Bones and Will Liverman, as well as a new lounge series at The Citadel in Little Haiti that will feature a smaller ensemble as an opportunity for new audiences to be introduced to their work.

Nu Deco Ensemble with Jacomo Bairos in concert at the Arsht Center In March of 2023. (Photo courtesy of Alex Markow)

“It’s a great way to experience high quality, world class live music, orchestral based live music that’s crossover, that’s cool, that’s contemporary, that’s fresh, but in a super digestible way,” says Bairos.

With a continued focused on the future, Nu Deco is also committed to supporting the next generation of musicians as their Nu Deco NXT youth ensemble continues to grow and they remain poised to capitalize on the opportunities that continue to come their way, while staying firmly planted in South Florida.

Says Bairos, “We finally have it all off the ground, we just need to keep working on it and keep expanding it and keep growing it in a way that gives impact. I see this 10 years from now, and being the orchestra of Miami for Miami, that means we can do all kinds of different things.”

WHAT:  Nu Deco Ensemble featuring Tank and the Bangas

WHEN:  8 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 21

WHERE:  New World Center, 500 17 Street, Miami Beach

COST:  $40, $75, $95, $115  

INFORMATION: (800) 597-3331 or nws.edu

ArtburstMiami.com is a nonprofit media source for the arts featuring fresh and original stories by writers dedicated to theater, dance, visual arts, film, music and more. Don’t miss a story at www.artburstmiami.com.

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