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Matthew Herbert Big Band




Photo by Eva Vermandel

SYDNEY FESTIVAL present MATTHEW HERBERT BIG BAND at the Concert Hall, Sydney Opera House.

“Matthew Herbert is one of electronic music’s most versatile and prolific figureheads.” At a desk downstage centre he has all the gadgetry necessary to sample the sounds around him and process into the sound mix, that is being collaboratively created by a Big Band, Some 16 instrumentalists – trumpets, trombones, saxophones, piano, bass and drums – and a soloist singer. Dressed in a very beautiful set of tails he twists and twiddles with his electronic knobs and jauntily dances to the music. It is a very engaging performance. The sound is big and the brass is exciting but the songs are ultimately bland. The orchestra (with 12 Australian musicians) are wonderfully committed to the experience, led by Peter Wraight Not one of the songs tunefully stay in the brain. One longed for a familiar big band tune just so that I could gauge more accurately what Mr Herbert was doing. The singer Eska Mtungwazi is ebullient in her presentation but unfortunately the lyrics were mostly inaudible and her contribution was just another musical sound competing with the orchestra and Matthew Herbert’s wizardry.

The audience were very enthusiastic and there were many encores. I was underwhelmed by the experience. But still pleased to hear such a Big Band concoction.