tooting their own horns
IT’S not every day community musicians get the chance to show off their chops alongside a high profile rock band – but that is exactly what is happening during this year’s Wangaratta Festival of Jazz and Blues.
An ensemble of sax and brass performers of all walks of life from the local community have been steadily rehearsing to form the Horns of Death, which will play with Spiderbait at the blue marquee during next month’s festival.
Many of the community members, such as Emma Jones, have an enduring passion for music.
Holding her intricately decorated, 22 year old alto saxophone, Emma explained she first got into music because of her father’s love of playing guitar, and said the jazz festival also contributed to her love of music.
Her interest continued through the friends she made and the influence of her teachers, including Jenny O’Brien.
“Wang has a long and proud tradition of excellent music teachers – we punch well above our weight, and have done for a long time,” Emma remarked.
“To me, this gig embodies what Wang Jazz is about – a community of people who love to play music, of varying backgrounds and abilities, all coming together to make something unique, authentic, and fun.
“Can you imagine the enormous wall of sound that 50 horns will make when we’re all going for it?”
“To me Wang Jazz Festival has created its own extraordinary community from combining what’s best about Wang and what’s best about Australian Jazz and Blues, happening here and internationally.”
Jazzaratta member Ben Thomas, who has been playing the trumpet for 24 years, says the performance will be a big thrill.
“I grew up listening to [Spiderbait’s] songs.
“Their album Ivy and the Big Apples made a lasting impression on me.
“Adam is to be highly commended for facilitating such an event... it will be remembered by the Horns of Death players for many years.
“It’s especially a valuable experience for the younger players, who have embraced the opportunity.”
Ben has been immersed in trumpet playing from a young age, stemming from his father who first introduced him to the instrument, and has performed with not only Jazzaratta, but also bands The Brass Razoos and Sweet Buzz.
He said he loves performing.
“I love the moments where you forget about everything else and just focus on the music, working together as a group to make something really good,” he said.
Music also plays a major role in the life of fellow Jazzaratta member Callum Morrison, who has played bass trombone since his high school days in Alexandra and has also played in the Benalla Rose City Town Band.
“It does not matter how tired you are, you just can’t help but feel better and it is great spending time with other musicians,” he said.
Adam Simmons, one of the group of co-artistic directors of the Wangaratta Festival of Jazz and Blues, who is coordinating the performance, has long had a connection to Spiderbait.
He played in the original Horns of Death ensemble and has worked on various projects with each member of the band.
“We were young, had mutual friends and they needed a fill-in player for a few shows,” Adam said.
“I liked their down-to-earth attitude and I don’t feel that’s changed at all, even if we are all older and hopefully a little wiser.”
A musician proficient in playing a range of saxophones and other wind/ brass instruments, Adam said the rehearsals with local members of the ensemble (community workshops have been funded by Regional Arts Victoria) are going well.
“There is a good buzz amongst the group and I’m excited by how the the sound is getting bigger and bolder each rehearsal,” he said, adding that the band itself is also looking forward to the performance.
“Wangaratta Festival of Jazz and Blues has always provided scope for artists to try things and Spiderbait have never really toed the line, so it’s actually a great match.”
He said he loved being involved with live performance.
“There is something special about experiencing something together, whether as a performer or listener.
“But part of it is that in live performance there is always the chance things might not go as planned and in that space is where the excitement comes from.”
Spiderbait will be performing with the Horns of Death at the Merriwa Park Blues Marquee during the Wangaratta Festival of Jazz, with the performance taking place on Sunday, November 5 from 7.15-8pm.
More information on the festival can be found at wangarattajazz.com.
BRASSY: Ben Thomas and Emma Jones are looking forward to making their mark on the Wangaratta Festival of Jazz and Blues as part of a community ensemble backing high profile band Spiderbait, known as Horns of Death.
ROCK ON: Adam Simmons rehearsing with members of Spiderbait.