Review – Simply the Best

Kings and Queens Performing Arts Centre
12 May 2012
Conductor: Howard Taylor
Guests: John Lewis (cornet) and Riki McDonnell (euphonium)

A disappointingly small, but very appreciative, audience enjoyed some top brass on Saturday evening in the Kings and Queens Performing Arts Centre.

Brisbane-based conductor Howard Taylor conducted an excellent programme by St Kilda Brass and compered the evening like a seasoned TV show host (I won’t mention the corny jokes).

The programme was titled “Simply the Best” and Taylor was quick to point out that the two guest soloists were indeed simply the best

And John Lewis (on cornet) and Riki McDonnell (on euphonium) certainly were, both performing solo work in the style that has won them a great many international titles and championships.

The band was in top form too, opening with a rousing Fanfare and Flourishes and working through 20 numbers of classical, rock, jazz and traditional to end with an absolutely sublime rendition of Pokarekare.

There were many highlights. The passionate tight blend and balance of The Irish Blessing, the speed and clarity of Lewis’ Napoli variations, the incredible virtuosity of McDonnell’s Carnival Cocktail (Sykes) and the beautiful duo arrangement of Hallelujah (Cohen) played by Lewis with Nathan Tane on electric guitar held the audience spellbound. Big numbers such as Swing When You’re Winning, Disney Fantasy, Georgia on My Mind and Innuendo were full of energy and character, and Bach’s Toccata in D Minor featuring Robert Craigie on xylophone, brought this well-known work out of the Baroque age.

A programme such as this makes one realise just how far brass bands, with their sophisticated repertoire, have evolved from the limitations of common-time street-march repertoire.

Elizabeth Bouman

Review taken from the Otago Daily Times (May 14, 2012)

Review – Brass and Voices

Kings and Queens Performing Arts Centre
29 October 2011
Conductor: Peter Adams
Guests: Otago Boys’ and Girls’ Choirs

St Kilda Brass presented its final 2011 concert on Saturday evening at the Kings and Queens Performing Arts Centre.

Peter Adams conducted and Otago Girls’ High School and Otago Boys’ High School choirs (musical director Karen Knudson) were guest performers.

Liberty Fanfare made a very impressive opening number. With its great range of dynamic contrast and forward drive creating a feeling of “something exciting is about to happen”.

John Williams (arr. Philip Sparke) has composed the ideal brass recital overture. This band produces tight, mellow, unified tone and there were many moments of beautiful resonance throughout its programme, plus colourful music to challenge four busy percussionists. In addition, a considerable number of players have achieved championship status in national competitions, and works were chosen to highlight this.

Rosie Evans (flugal horn) soloed in a brass arrangement of Rodrigo’s Concerto du Arunjuez, originally for classical guitar, Erynne Scherf (tenor horn open grade champ) showed her winning style in Goff Richards’ arrangement of Over the Rainbow, and principal cornet Katie Blair created seamless legato phrasing in Pastorale, a more lyrical work by Richards.

John McAdam (baritone horn) also featured impressively as a soloist. Richards’ Armenian Fire Dance was an absolute highlight, proving champs in the ranks make the difference. Vibrancy with thrilling clarity never failed as tempo accelerated to a brilliant climactic ending.

Choir performances were disappointingly under par, no doubt due to the absence of many members, but 10 OBHS singers showed it is “cool for guys to sing”, performing their bracket with the zealous attitude and teamwork of any 1st XV, displaying vocal skills which earned a placing in Big Sing’s national finals.

Elizabeth Bouman

Review taken from the Otago Daily Times (October 31, 2011)

Review – A Night at the Opera 2

Mayfair Theatre
28 May 2011
Conductor: Dave Burchell
Guests: Emma Fraser, Jason Balla

Night of opera hits leaves audience keen for more

A near capacity house did not really want their Night at the Opera at the Mayfair to come to an end.

The programme of well-known hits from operas was presented by the St Kilda Brass Band and guest soloists soprano Emma Fraser and tenor Jason Balla and directed by David Burchell. All performed very well.

The band is in top shape, executing both exquisitely soft passages and full-bodied blasts with apparent ease. Burchell directed them, it seemed as if they were an orchestra with strings attached, with surprisingly good effect.

Emma Fraser is also in fine form. Her voice matures well and she has always had a great dramatic presence. Balla is also an accomplished singer, though not quite as at home as Fraser. Their duets were especially convincing.

All items were performed exceptionally well, and the arrangers of orchestral works for brass all did a creditable job. Though the balance between brass and voice was consistently good, audibility of the singers over the brass at full volume was greatly assisted by microphones.

Notable items included “Bei Maennern” (The Magic Flute), in which the soloists’ voices blended beautifully; “O mio babbino caro” (Gianni Schicchi); “Seguidilla” (Carmen); “Overture: Il Barbiere di Siviglia” (The Barber of Seville); “Granada” (Fantasia Espanola); “Pilgrim Chorus” (Tannhauser); “Summertime” (Porgy and Bess); and “Song to the Moon” (Rusalka).

Sadly, “Younger than Springtime” (South Pacific) just slipped below the standard of the others. It deserves to have more time spent on the play with words – there being so few of them.

However, two items deserve to be singled out for all the right reasons. “Overture: Candide” is a wonderful romp through several time changes and other disjointed rhythms. It was performed with excellence.

The final item, “All I Ask of You” (The Phantom of the Opera), is testament to just how good popular music can be rousing, uplifting, heart warming and excellently performed.

St Kilda Brass at the Mayfair, Saturday, May 28
Marian Poole

Review taken from the Otago Daily Times (May 30, 2011)

Review – Swing with the Rat Pack

Glenroy Auditorium
21 November 2009
Conductor: Steve Miles
Guests: Douglas Kamo, Rob Enari and Kris Bate

The Rat Pack reincarnated returned to Dunedin on Saturday night as slick, smooth and funny as the original Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr and Frank Sinatra. A full house in the Glenroy auditorium loved every minute of the smooth crooning, irreverent humour and stylish moves of the local cool cats: Douglas Kamo, Rob Enari and Kris Bate.

This was an excellent concert put on by St Kilda Brass: all the great songs were there, delivered with the panache, if not quite the vocal qualities, of the original “rats”. Kamo, Enari and Bate were all over the auditorium working the audience with all the skills, humour and charm of the originals. No one was safe: audience member Avis (“Isn’t that a rental company?” quipped Kamo) found herself on stage lying across rat pack knees being serenaded in a love song. Audience participation was mandatory and great fun – a Mexican wave for That’s Amore, phonetic punctuation for Doe a Deer and finger clicking and clapping along all adding to the success of songs like My WayNew York, New York and Mack the Knife.

All credit to musical director Steve Miles whose roles included conductor, compere, singer and arranger. His idiomatic arrangements transformed St Kilda Brass into a swing big band: cornets discarded for Freddie Hubbard-style trumpets complete with screamers and fall-offs, and the middle of the band imitating saxophones. At the heart of the accompaniment was a strong rhythm section of Stuart Walker (keyboards), Ian McCabe (bass guitar) and Daniel Dance (drums) who kept up a high energy backing.

Opening each half alone, St Kilda Brass displayed quality soloists of its own with Ralph Miller giving a splendid account of the Harry James Trumpet Concerto, principal cornet John Lewis all style in Georgia on my Mindand Ted “foot-long” Pheloung delivering Just a Closer Walk with New Orleans-style jazz panache.

St Kilda Brass is to be congratulated on its innovative Southern Victorian Charitable Trust concert series. For the last couple of years they have shown that the modern brass band is a versatile and exciting ensemble that can put on imaginative programmes and professional, entertaining concerts.

Peter Adams
Dunedin

Review – 20th Century & Beyond

Mayfair Theatre
26 September 2009
Conductor: Steve Miles
Guest Soloist: Gladys Hope QSM

A particularly grotty weather weekend in Dunedin was enhanced greatly last week by a very well programmed concert given by St Kilda Brass. The third concert in this year’s Southern Victorian charitable Trust concert series, the 20th Century & Beyond took the large Dunedin audience on a journey through music of the 20th Century.

The programme started with the 20th Century Fox Fanfare before a rousing rendition of the Stars & Stripes Forever March by the March king John Phillip Sousa. Some very fine Soprano playing from Ralph Miller set the scene for the entire Cornet section to step up and be featured in Hora Staccato at break neck speed before a complete change of mood in the very cheeky theme tune to the film Those Magnificent Men in Those Flying Machines. Gladys Hope was the chosen guest artist for the evening’s concert, a singer and actress well known throughout New Zealand and a real favourite with the Dunedin public. Gladys gave her first contribution for the evening with a wonderfully spaced rendition of the traditional air Danny Boy. So lyrical and controlled, Gladys held the audience in the palm of her hand before air raid sirens, gun fire, bombs and search lights set the scene for a war bracket featuring Dam Bustersand the medley Keep Smiling Through.

More of Gladys Hope’s beautiful singing followed with Summertimefrom Gershwin’s Opera Porgy & Bess before the bands major contribution of the evening, Dean Goffin’s Rhapsody in Brass. Dating back to the 1940’s Goffin’s work is a very audience friendly work full of lyrical melody and catchy phrases. St Kilda Brass really excelled in this performance which was very well prepared. Very careful balance and exquisitely precise ensemble were topped off by soloists on top form, in particular newly appointed Solo Horn player Erynne Scherf who’s rendition of the second movement was both beautiful and haunting.

Another Opening Another Show got the second half underway before the very complex music from West Side Story arranged by Eric Crees. This was another big work on the programme which was delivered with panache and excitement. A very unusual start to the next item came from Gladys Hope and St Kilda Brass’s Bonar Robertson acting out the opening conversation of With One Look from Sunset Boulevard which was specially arranged for this concert by MD Steve Miles. Complete with American accents the actors set the scene perfectly before Gladys Hopedelivered a show stopping performance. Holding the character throughout, Gladys showed the enthusiastic and appreciative audience just why she is held in such high regard as a character actress and musical theatre start. This was a real highlight of the evening and was fully deserved of the extended ovation.

MacArthur Park and What a Wonderful World brought a very 60’s flavour to the concert before an upbeat and vocal rendition of Hello Dolly. The pulse wobbled a little in this number but the bands singing was as usual a highlight! Gladys Hope finished her evening with another of Steve Miles arrangements, this time reliving the role of Mrs Potts that she played in both Wellington and Dunedin productions of Disney’s Beauty & the Beast. Greeted with an overwhelming ah from the audience after its introduction, Gladys performed the show’s title track flawlessly and was real pleasure to listen to.

The finale of the concert taking us into the beyond was Ray Farr’sGalaxies. Full of dynamic contrasts and dramatic effect, the finale was handled with aplomb bringing the evening’s music making to a very exciting close (Before of course the obligatory rendition of the bands signature tune When the Saints).

The bands concert series now has a very strong following due to some innovative thinking and consistent quality. It’s great to hear such positive comments from the Dunedin public that really are getting value for money from this series. I look forward with anticipation to the bands next event on 21st November, Swing with the Rat Pack which will relive the fun and frivolous entertainment of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Junior with special guests Doug Kamo, Kris Bate & Rob Enari.

Sean McDonald
Dunedin

Review – Beyond the Tamar

Mayfair Theatre, Dunedin
16 June 2009
Conductor: Steve Miles

A good sized audience turned out for the first in St Kilda Brass’s 2009 concert series on a bitterly cold Dunedin Saturday night.

The late start to the concert series this year is due to the change of date for the New Zealand National Championships which was held over the Easter period, a change that seems to have caused a number of event programming issues in the Dunedin community but nonetheless the series was finally underway and it was Paul Lovatt-Cooper’s Walking with Heroes which got the nights entertainment started with Cornets and Trombones in traditional concert opening fanfare formation.

Subtitled a “journey through musical genres and styles,” the concert continued with music from Franz Liszt in the form of the Hungarian Rhapsody No.2 which was delivered with fine ensemble, balance of lines and a certain “musical cheekiness” in the interpretation.

A complete change of mood (and lighting effect) brought the beautiful melody Amazing Grace before the major contribution of the first half Philip Harper’s Beyond the Tamar. Written originally for the Anniversary celebrations of the Cornwall Youth Brass Band, Harper’s work takes the audience on a journey from Cornwall around the world and back again visiting and touching upon musical styles of various countries and offering both audience and band a thoroughly entertaining time.

Beyond the Tamar was a real treat from the beautiful serenity of the Alps to the clearly visible flashes of Lighting through the Storm in Leningrad, the Improvisational techniques and tone colours of India, the vocal talents of the entire band in the traditional melody from Zimbabwe led by Rene Spoors to the wonderfully choreographed and all out fun in the Latin American Salsa.

I have never heard a brass concert quite like this and I applaud the MD’s attempt at delivering something unique to the Dunedin audience. Many audience members that I spoke to during the interval and after the show regarded this work as a highlight not only of the concert but of the entire last 3 concert series!

First off in the second half came James Curnow’s Psalm of Praise which was not always executed with the precision that one expects from this fine band but nonetheless there was certainly some excitement generated from the crisp ensemble and control of tempi.

A soloist showcase followed featuring the talents of Ralph Miller in Live and Let Die on soprano cornet, John Lewis in Napoli on cornet, Marty Kibble in Children of Sanchez on flugel horn and Errol Moore in Hamabe No Uta on euphonium. What a joy it is having such fine soloists in Dunedin and how lucky this band is to have leaders of such quality. All soloists really showed there class despite the occasional unsteadiness of the accompanying ensemble. Bravo!

Breathtaking speed through the Armenian Fire Dance which saw technical wizardry from both a young cornet team and a talented tuned percussion section led to a final set of music from the Big Band era with cornets exchanging their instruments for trumpets.

I must say this set of music was particularly enjoyable and the band seemed to be completely at ease with this genre of music delivering a very tight and dynamically controlled performance topped off with some nifty jazz solo work from Ralph Miller and John Lewis.

Contrast, variety and innovation were the ingredients to this concert which saw the band take their choreography to a new level…thoroughly enjoyable!

The bands next concert once again features the astonishing talent of David Bremner as guest soloist appearing this time with his father Trevor also. Not that I should be wishing away time at my age but roll on 31st July!

Sean McDonald
Dunedin

Review – Stage and Screen

Mayfair Theatre, Dunedin
29 November 2008
Conductor: Steve Miles
Guest Artists: Gladys Hope (Soprano), John Kiernan-Sear (Baritone), Gina Miles, Nicola Dyer, Melinda Joe, Jenifer Hancox (Dancers)

A capacity audience packed into Dunedin’s Mayfair Theatre on Saturday night to enjoy the last in the 2008 subscription series of concerts given by St Kilda Brass entitled ‘Stage and Screen’.

As the title suggests the evening was dedicated to the music of both Musical Theatre and Film.

Atmospheric and Brutal

Dressed smartly in dinner suits the band got the evening’s entertainment under way with a brand new arrangement of the Fanfare from Rocky before some wonderfully atmospheric and brutal playing in the Barbarian Horde from Gladiator.

A selection of music from Andrew Lloyd Weber’s masterpiece the Phantom of the Opera followed featuring the extremely versatile Gladys Hope in Think of Me, the silky smooth talents of John Kiernan Sear in the Music of the Night and the two popular Dunedin stars joining together in All I Ask of You. These numbers were accompanied with extreme sensitively and the clever use of mutes softened the brass sounds and added some very nice tone colours, allowing the singers to shine through the texture superbly.

More film music followed with Jurrasic Park showing the talents of newly appointed Solo Horn, Rowena Howard and Soul Bossa Nova featuring some nifty jazz Flugel work from Marty Kibble.

Visually Stunning

The first half finale was Ray Farr’s arrangement of Riverdance featuring a dance troupe lead and choreographed by Musical Director Steve Miles wife Gina. This was a real highlight of the concert visually stunning and plenty of points of interest including players performing solos from various positions both on and off the stage and even some vocal talent on display from within the band through the opening sections. This was particularly popular with the audience and one had to wonder how on earth the band could follow that in the second half!

Unique!

Well the second half got under way without the conductor and Principal Cornet John Lewis and Flugel Horn Marty Kibble playing the parts of Clint Eastwood and the Mexican Bandit in The Good the Bad and the Ugly. Full of good humour, choreographic precision and gunfire this certainly was a very unique number and the soloists should be congratulated on their first foray into acting!

From one Ennio Morricone number to another Gabriel’s Oboe followed before the vocal soloists entered for some more music from the shows. Gladys Hope took the lead in I Don’t Know How to Love Him from Jesus Christ Superstar and I Dreamed a Dream from Les Miserables whilst John Kiernan-Sear featured with Anthem from Chess and Stars from Les Miserables. Once again the accompaniments were fully aware of the soloists which allowed good balance to be maintained throughout.

Uncomfortable

Much of the music on this concert was arranged especially by the Musical Director however some arrangements obviously were not and this version of I Dreamed a Dream never seemed comfortable to me, being pitched much lower than the original and clearly too low for a female voice. However, Gladys Hope showed why she is regarded as the consummate performer that she is by cleverly adding some harmonies and octave leaps.

New arrangements of music from Lord of the Dance followed with Jennifer Hancox showing off her dancing talents through Gypsy before some beautifully shaped Euphonium Duo playing from Ian O’Malley and Errol Moore in Lament. The finale to the concert was a new arrangement of Victory from Lord of the Dance which again was a visual spectacle featuring the four dancers. The energy and excitement of this number was exceptional and the thoroughly deserved ovation from the audience signalled an encore of the number through which the steps and choreography remained immaculate.

With audience members whistling, cheering and screaming for more Gladys Hope and John Kiernan-Sear took to the stage for one more encore in Howard Snell’s beautiful treatment of You’ll Never Walk Alone. The pitch centre of this number was not always correct from soloists however this came right and the sheer power from the evenings guests made one wonder why they had ever been amplified electronically at all!

Series Finale gets the thumbs up

This was a great concert; full of visual and audio spectacles, new arrangements and superb lighting which enhanced the whole show. What a wonderful way to end the series; one can only wonder what will be in store for the Dunedin public in the next series.

Sean McDonald
Dunedin

Review – Brass & Voices

Mayfair Theatre 17th May
St Kilda Brass Steve Miles
Southern Youth Choir Ruth Kirkwood

A near capacity crowd packed into the Mayfair Theatre in Dunedin on Saturday night to hear the second in St Kilda Brass’s subscription series of concerts Brass & Voices.

The programme got under way with Paul Lovatt-Coopers popular Where Eagles Sing which set the exciting tine for the evening. St Kilda’s substantial offering of the evening was Herbert Howell’s masterful score Pageantry which was full of appropriate style and character. The beautiful second movement was a real feature with soloists displaying real sensitivity and poise, particularly Soprano Cornet Ralph Miller in the closing sections. John Lewis (Cornet) set the style and tempo to the last movement with a real sense of class before an incredibly tight ensemble thrilled the audience through the extended climactic finish.

John Lewis featured next as a soloist in Phillip Sparke’s Song and Dance and once again showed all in attendance why he is regarded as one of the finest Cornet players in the Southern Hemisphere. The Accompaniment to John’s wonderful playing was a little heavy at times, particularly in the awkward sections of the Dance but nevertheless this was well received.

Music from the Swing Era and Harry Jame’s Trumpet Blues and Cantabile featured the remaining Solo Cornet players and Soprano in an arrangement that was a particular favourite with the audience on the night.

The band reformed whilst conductor and compere Steve Miles gave an extended and informative introduction to Howard Snell’s wonderfully atmospheric The Old Chalet. This was an intriguing arrangement that feature 3 separate groups of Cornets spread around the hall creating echo effects, a Euphonium at the back of the hall providing Alphorn sounds and a meandering Cow Bell in the distance.

Next, Peter Graham’s Call of the Cossacks was full of excitement with the tight ensemble, huge dynamic contrasts, breathtaking speeds, top class soloists and sharp Percussion section which really was deserved of the extended ovation given by the audience. As an encore to the first half the band performed an arrangement by Leigh Baker of the Angus Dei from Faure’s Requiem which could have done some serious damage to the fragile old theatre building in the huge climatic ending! More Peter Graham music got the second half under way with Shine As the Light before the evenings guests, the Southern Youth Choir and their Musical Director Ruth Kirkwood took to the stage. This is a young and vibrant ensemble that displayed some very beautiful sounds and well controlled harmonies through a programme of music that ranged from African and Serbian folk song to the more traditional sounds of Thomas Tallis, Johannes Brahms and William Byrd.

The combined forces of the Choir and Band came together and were very finely balanced in excerpts from David Hamilton’s The Dragons are Singing Tonight and the traditional Welsh Folk Song Sosban Fach, arranged by Goff Richards and adapted for the concert by Steve Miles.

The programme for this concert was incredibly varied; the execution of performance was top notch, the guest artists impressive and topped off with some very appropriate and atmospheric lighting effects. What more could one ask for – Bravo!!!

Sean McDonald
(Dunedin)

Review – By Popular Demand

Saturday 15 March, 2008
Kings Performing Arts Centre, Dunedin
Conductor Steve Miles
Soloist David Bremner

A near capacity audience poured into the Kings Performing Arts Centre on Saturday night to hear the first in the Southern Victorian Charitable Trusts 2008 concert series performed by St Kilda Brass.

The evening opened with a rousing arrangement of John Williams Olympic Spirit played with Cornets and Trombones stood around the band. Following a quick reshuffle onstage the concert continued with Verdi’s Force of Destiny Overture which was full of excitement and tight ensemble playing. The bands soloists shone throughout this number, in particular John Lewis (Cornet), Marty Kibble (Flugel) and Ian O’Malley (Euphonium). The impact of these first couple of numbers was enhanced significantly by the superb use of stage lighting. This I believe is the first time the band has added a professional lighting show to one of its concerts and it certainly added to the whole atmosphere of the concert.

Principal Trombonist of the New Zealand Symphony orchestra and one of the Southern Hemisphere’s premiere Brass talents, David Bremner took to the stage to perform Guillmant’s Morceu Symphonique which was delivered with precision and panache. David’s excellent tone quality throughout the entire range of the instrument was a feature throughout together with impressive lyrical phrasing. David followed with a real ‘golden oldie’ The Acrobat. Despite the very light and humorous nature of this piece, David’s Trombone playing class was ever present. To encore David’s first solo set he was joined by the bands Trombone section and Flugel to perform Goff Richards arrangement of I Will Follow Him. A lively number that was great fun to hear, though I’m not convinced about the band’s swaying!

Through Bolts & Bars got the audience’s feet tapping again before Beethoven’s 2nd movement of the Moonlight Sonata. Unusual to hear a band perform this piece however it was delivered with real sensitivity and poise. A concert of requests would not be complete without some music from the film Brassed Off and next on the programme was Rodrigo’s Concerto d’aranjeuz performed by Marty Kibble. Marty thrilled the audience with some beautiful Flugel sounds and lovely delicate phrasing – a real highlight of the evening before the big bombastic blasts of Tchaikowsky’s 1812 Overture.

The second half got under way with the Introduction to Act III of Wagner’s Opera Lohengrin which featured the broad and powerful sounds of the bands bottom end. Next came the only slight disappointment of the evening in Debussy’s Claire de Lune. This is a very lovely piece of music that requires so much delicacy and sensitivity and that was not always present. However, In the Hall of the Mountain King certainly took the band back into their comfort zone.

David Bremner was then introduced back to the stage to perform Stephen Foster’s Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair before an absolutely dazzling display of the Bluebells of Scotland which brought the house down. Breakneck speeds and phenomenal technique on display from the soloist throughout. Steve Miles then downed his Baton for a Euphonium and joined David in the popular favourite Softly As I Leave You – another highlight of the evening and clearly an enjoyable experience for both soloists.

The music of James Bond was next on the programme with soloists Ted Pheloung (Trombone) and Ralph Miller (Soprano) in sensational form before the mood was changed dramatically with Pope’s Nightfall in Camp featuring John Lewis. This piece was dedicated to the memory of Alan Knight the bands late Secretary. What better way to finish off a concert than with the Finale to Rossini’s William Tell Overture, full of dynamic contrast, fine technique and wonderful solo playing from John Lewis. Of course the band’s signature tune (When the Saints) followed to satisfy the cheers and whistles of a very excited audience. A great start to the concert season and so pleasing to see new faces in the band and many new faces in the audience.

Sean McDonald
Dunedin

Review – Eclectic Brass

Saturday 17th November 2007
Mayfair Theatre Dunedin
Conductor – Steve Miles
Guest Artists – Cambio

Saturday 17th November brought a close to the St Kilda Brass 2007 Southern Victorian Charitable Trust Concert series with an evening of entertainment entitled ‘Eclectic Brass’ at Dunedin’s Mayfair Theatre. This was another unusual collaboration for the band, the last concert in the series featured Brass Band and Violin and tonight’s guest artists came in the form of a Jazz Fusion group called ‘Cambio’.

Looking at the programme it became obvious that the 1st half of the concert was a journey through music of the 20th Century with samples of music from different genres, hence the name Eclectic Brass I suppose. The concert got under way with William Rimmer’s March the Black Knight, very precise and stately playing with some fine dynamic contrasts. Moving forward a couple of years to 1914, next was Euday L Bowman’s classic 12th Street Rag featuring some very tight ensemble playing from a Cornet Trio of Chris Gillum, Rowena Howard and Stacey Ward.

John Lewis is St Kilda Brass’s usual Principal Cornet player but on this occasion John was unavailable which made way for the bands usual Repiano Cornet player Hamish Miller to show off his skills, and show off he did with a cracking rendition of Harry James Trumpet Concerto from the late 1930’s.

Another soloist followed with Tim Walsh taking us into the 1950’s with a Frank Sinatra hit All The Way. Tim displayed some very fine controlled Trombone playing throughout with superb intonation particularly in the high register.

Next on the programme was music from the Beatles and an arrangement of Ticket to Ride that I haven’t heard for years. The band really created the atmosphere of a Train starting up and getting moving through the opening sections with equally impressive atmosphere in the final few bars. From the 60’s to the 70’s and one of the most recognizable of Jazz Standards, Zawinal’s Birdland. The band did well to capture the relaxed Jazz style in this number, which is something that is often overlooked by Brass Bands when playing Jazz, and managed to keep the ensemble tight throughout. Gary Valentine on Soprano was on particularly fine form. Another soloist followed with music from the 1979 film Children of Sanchez. This featured Marty Kibble on Flugel who gave us a wonderfully expressive rendition of Chuck Mangione’s score. The ensemble between band and soloist in this number was not always at its best and there were occasionally some uneasy moments but nevertheless exciting stuff. Into the 1980’s next with some Acid House music arranged by Rodney Newton for the Williams Fairey Bands Acid Brass project, Lets Get Brutal. This featured the Saints fine Percussion section, Samdrub Dawa, Justine Pierre and Neil Pickering.

The finale of the first half was another Rodney Newton piece, this time not an arrangement but an original composition based on Romanian and Bulgarian Gypsy Aires, Echoes of the East. So many different colors, dynamic contrasts and even some slick choreography enhanced the incredibly exciting performance which brought both the band and audience to their feet at the finish. Though very exciting and entertaining there were a couple of moments of poor intonation in the louder dynamics particularly when instrument were facing out towards the audience, but that’s just being ‘picky’ I loved it!

The second half started with the band in an unorthodox set up with the whole band stood behind a seated Bass section. Again some exciting playing here of Peter Graham’s Windows of the World which suffered a little from being unbalanced in the slow music. Partly to do with Trombones facing out I think, but some very warm sounds on offer together with rampant and powerful vocal lines in Drums of Thunder. The word Cambio literally translates ‘to change’ and that is what the evening’s guest artists are all about. A group of Jazz musicians comprising of Trevor Coleman – Keyboard/Trumpet, Nick Cornish – Sax, Dan Bendrups – Trombone, Dave Harrison – Guitar, Rob Burns – Bass and Rob Craigie – Drums, this sextet carries with them a phenomenal amount of talent and experience. Cambio’s contribution to the concert came in the form of 5 almost original compositions. I say almost because even the items that were based on well known Jazz Standards were altered dramatically and very cleverly.

The popular Jazz Standards Take Five and A Night in Tunisia were performed in different Time Signatures to the originals, Take Five with an added beat and A Night in Tunisia with a beat taken away. Other items were Sugar and 2 original compositions from a series of pieces written by the band in a Jam session back in 2002, subject to Change 2 and Subject to Change 5. The incredible array of solo talent and technical mastery of instruments, not to mention mastery of the Jazz idiom, was simply breathtaking and watching Trevor Coleman play Trumpet and Keyboard at the same time was worth the ticket price alone. Despite the absolutely superb entertainment on offer with this group there were a couple of moments of unbalance where the soloists didn’t quite come over the amplified sounds of the Guitar, Bass & Keyboard.

To finish off the concert the Saints took to the stage once more, stood around the back of Cambio for combined items of Malaguena, El Cumbanchero and Sing Sing Sing. The cohesion of sound from the massed forces was quite exceptional and the ensemble remained extremely tight throughout. Once again unbelievable solo playing was on offer from the evenings guests and in particular Rob Craigie who’s Drumming was the glue between the two ensembles. The second half finished in the same manner as the first with audience members on their feet this time shouting for more which unfortunately they did not get – maybe next time!

Another truly unique concert that was fully entertaining. I look forward to seeing what the band can come up with next!

Sean McDonald
Dunedin