Sabu Toyozumi

16 March 2017, Common Room

Thursday night at the Common Room. The room fills nicely as something extraordinary is about to happen.

Internationally acclaimed improvising drummer Sabu Toyozumi and the rest of his quartet are setting up and getting ready for what will be an extremely fun and adventurous night.

Joined by the musical genius of Jeff Henderson on sax, Tom Callwood on bass, Dan Beban on guitar, Sabu is about to unleash his magical powers on the audience, with a child-like innocence that only invites you to come to the party and play.

The beauty of anything improvised lies in the space of freedom it exudes from and creates. A time for us to stretch the frame of our perception that is too often formatted and ruled by the money-making, soul-crushing, homogenising hand of the mainstream industry.

Like our planet is made of a variety of ecosystems, our senses need to experience an array of shapes and sounds for us to thrive and evolve. Sabu’s quartet achieved that beautifully, shattering the common definition of music, pushing the boundaries of sound and taking us on a journey of wonders.

Music became the sheer authentic truth of physics hitting our ear drums in all its perceived chaos and amusing grandeur.

“Music is fun” is what the quartet is telling us, and demonstrating on stage through excellent musicianship; it is an adventure and an exploration of ideas. It surpasses judgment and takes us right outside the box, encouraging us to have a good time in even the most unknown territory.

Sabu playing drums with his socks or brushing the kraft paper behind him are the authentic expression of playfulness. The formatted mind is closed to it. The open one on the opposite side is having a tremendous time!

This quartet is not your regular free jazz gig, self-indulgent if anything and inaccessible because the musicians are individually tripping and the connection “as a whole” missing. No.

This quartet takes us above and beyond, shows us what it is like to improvise, experiment and listen, to overcome judgment and achieve freedom. Because freedom is work, it is a lot of work: it requires the unlearning of all things taught. Turn it all upside down and dance with it. Sabu sums it up when describing his playing: “It’s half discipline, half freedom”.

May we all find that balance, nurture the child in us to better our lives.


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