Nexus Arts, Lions Arts Center, Sat 1 Sep.
Saúde, evidently a Portuguese reference equivalent to cheers or a toast – was a gig in two parts. The first part of the show was presented by the very fun local outfit Abraska (formerly Conchillia). While this started firmly in pop, it was followed up with songs in a variety of genres, including jazz and world rhythms. The band has a great feel, guitar, bass, drums and singer are all accomplished musicians in their own right, then you add a very tasty brass section and you are foot tapping and from time to time singing along when the chorus permits.
The second part of the Saúde gig is a new piece composed by Adam Page, in conjunction with SaSamba (an Adelaide-based Brazilian drumming outfit). It was loud, upwards of a dozen drummers armed with sticks can be like that – but there were plenty of earplugs within easy reach. As well as various combinations of SaSamba (about 20 members taking it in turn, typically a dozen or so at a time on stage), Page was the band leader, featuring his saxophone, trumpet, trombone, sousaphone and keys.
At the same time Andy was definitely the percussion leader and the conducting was a sideshow in itself. It isn’t something that you see all that often outside of Brazil (at least not in places I have been), but the hand and body signs that are used are fascinating in and of themselves. While some are clear, some remain a mystery to me (even having seen SaSamba play several times over the last few years). Nonetheless at a classic piece of audience interaction we all knew clearly that the number of fingers was the number of claps/taps/beats that we were supposed to make for this part of the rhythm – great fun!
Rhythms were not limited to Brazilian – there was plenty of variety to our foot tapping! No doubt at least part of Page’s compositional inspiration was the idea of Carnivàle – where drum and brass bands pound the streets. While we missed out on the marching and dancing, and semi-clad beauties of either sex were not evident at any stage during the performance – we weren’t short on anything else; each instrument having opportunity for harmony and solos and virtuosity an ever present essence.
Adam Page is getting more commissions for such works and long may it be so – he delivers brilliantly. But as well as a great score, it took a group of fine musicians to make it happen and Page clearly has the right connections to make it so. All that I could add to this is Adelaide’s own Carnivàle festival for this show to hit the streets – wouldn’t that be something!
Image courtesy of Live Music SA