Tag Archives: Gideon Brazil


Cara Taber Gideon Brazil

Cara Taber and Gideon Brazil fill the air with colour during Adam Simmons’ Concerto For Piano and Toy Band


Concert 1: Concerto for Piano and Toy Band
Michael Kieran Harvey with Adam Simmons Creative Music Ensemble
Composed by Adam Simmons

Thursday 2 March 2017, fortyfivedownstairs, 45 Flinders Lane, Melbourne

By the time this post appears the second performance of this concerto will be over, but there will be two more chances to join the audience — on Saturday at 7.30pm and on Sunday at 3pm.

I loved this work. One of the performers, alto saxophonist Cara Taber, described this as “beautiful, thought-provoking, and strong original music by Adam Simmons” and that fits.

The concerto, which has three parts surrounded by a prologue, two interludes and an epilogue, is at times frenzied and at others meditative. Bursts of sudden energy come from the powerful piano of classical musician Michael Kieran Harvey as well as from the Toy Band.

As is always the case with Simmons’ art, we are encouraged to enjoy as well as to reflect on what we are seeing and hearing, what the performers are bringing to us beyond their facility with a range of instruments.

Confucius, a great lover of music, is part of this work, introduced in lines spoken by Simmons as he turns the handles on music boxes, propelling paper tapes into which the words are punched as holes. My googling suggests that Confucius gave ideas on how music should follow the ideal of the ancient pattern and then allow for improvisation while maintaining harmony.

This is the context for the brief spoken passages in Simmons’ concerto, in that Confucius, when talking to the Grand Master of Lu (who had been given the task of teaching music) about the Ancients’ Music, said, “Their music began with a strict unison. Soon the musicians were given more liberty; but the tone remained harmonious, brilliant, consistent, right on ’til the close.”

The spoken passages provide a framework in which the musicians work. The whole work — Simmons’ first long-form composition — is part of his exploration this year of The Usefulness of Art, inspired by French Impressionist sculptor Auguste Rodin‘s view that “I call useful anything that gives us happiness”. Simmons wants us to reflect on art as connection, sharing experience and encouraging understanding between people.

The influences he cites for this effort to highlight the contrast between soloist and ensemble include the words of Confucius, Werner Herzog films he watched when composing the piece in Wye River some years back and John Zorn’s books of interviews, essays and commentaries by musicians.

All this, while interesting as a background to the performance, is not required as a prelude to its enjoyment. There are startling moments in the concerto, there are periods in which Harvey thrills at the piano and there is a time when Taber’s saxophone solo is accompanied by musicians moving quietly and percussively through the audience and performance space.

It is best not to tell that story beforehand, but to experience it. I would thoroughly recommend that you find the time to catch the remaining two performances of Concerto for Piano and Toy Band.


The Toy Band: Adam Simmons sopranino, baritone saxophones, shakuhachi; Cara Taber alto saxophone; Gideon Brazil tenor saxophone; Gemma Horbury trumpet; Gavin Cornish trumpet; Bryn Hills trombone; Howard Cairns double bass; Hugh Harvey drums

Below are some images, which are in black and white. The performance certainly is not.



MB4 Matt Boden

CD launch: March 1, Bennetts Lane, Melbourne, 9pm

THIS debut as leader by Tasmanian-born pianist Matt Boden, now living in Paris, closes with an endearingly slow-swinging version of Mingus’s tune Duke Ellington’s Sound of Love.

With mates Leigh Barker on acoustic bass, Alastair McGrath-Kerr on drums and Gideon Brazil on tenor sax, Boden retains that mood in his Berlin-inspired Revaler Strasse.

McGrath-Kerr’s 5am, Hendrix on TV is unexpectedly, but irresistibly restrained.

But Boden’s Courtesy Forbids ups the energy level in a delightful romp reminiscent of Barker’s quintet, in which Boden has featured on two albums.

The joy evident in the playing of this unpretentious album passes easily to the listener. And it’s great that the Mingus piece rivals the appeal of the original.

File between: Hank Jones, Andreas Schmidt

Download: Revaler Strasse, Courtesy Forbids

CD launch: March 1, Bennetts Lane, 9pm

This review also published in the Play liftout of the Sunday Herald Sun, Melbourne on Sunday, 27 February, 2011



I was aiming to catch the iPod iMprov Mashup, but The Ages had just started when I arrived at this out-of-the-way but friendly space, with Myles Mumford cooking pancakes, and a supply of cup cakes on hand. The Mashup did happen around midnight, led by Gideon Brazil on flute and iPhone. He was gradually joined by some afionados who knew how to wax lyrical with apps on the small screen.

Here’s a couple of images, but there’s no time for more. The final night of the Fringe approaches.

Gideon Brazil on flute, and friends
Gideon Brazil on flute, and friends

iPod mashers lost in their own world.
iPod mashers lost in their own world.