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Fringe Review:
Adam Page's 4 Saxophones and a Beat Machine

Adam Page

Adam Page tackles climate change, INXS and the joys of parenthood with only four saxophones and a beat machine in this fast-paced masterclass in improvisation.

Adam Page has the audience on the edge of their seats as he blows a single note from his alto-sax. With the help of his pedal-operated looping station, that note is elevated into a cacophony of funk and jazz infused melodies. Although Page stands alone onstage, it often sounds as though he’s surrounded by a ten-piece band as he chops and screws beats from every sound that escapes from the family of saxophones at his feet.

Page dedicates most of the show to his daughter, an adventurous two-year-old experiencing the world’s beauty and danger with cautious trepidation. In Horse in Danger, Page mixes a bluesy baritone sax beat with snippets of shrill soprano sax to emphasise his daughter’s fear and curiosity of a horse she heard about on the news. The song is a journey, mirroring the two-year-old’s topsy-turvy approach to life – anger, fear, happiness, curiosity and contentment play out in just under ten minutes.

Page isn’t an overwhelming presence on stage, however; save for a few flustered comments while adjusting the beat machine, he lets the music speak for him. His charisma, his story, are all expressed through his playing, a process that is often imperfect, raw, and tempered with a fluid precision echoing the sounds of jazz and funk legend, John Schofield. But Page, unlike his beat machine, is a human being, and his emotional performance invites audiences to reflect upon this fact as he sweats and fumbles through difficult parts of the show.

Through his sax Page conveys his growing need to be fallible and vulnerable to match his deep love for his daughter, making 4 Saxophones and a Beat Machine more than a showcase of this Adelaide favourite’s prodigious musicianship, but an insightful reflection on his experience of fatherhood.

Adam Page’s 4 Saxophones and a Beat Machine was performed at the Tin Shed at The Wheatsheaf Hotel and continues until February 29

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Olivia De Zilva

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