top of page
Acid Brass (Remix)


(retranscriptions of music arranged by Rodney Newton for brass band, curated/concept by Jeremy Deller)


Acid House music from 1989-1990 scored for live band.


Tenor Sax, Baritone Sax, 3 Trumpets, 3 Trombones, Drum Set, Latin Percussion, Keyboards, Electric Guitar, Electric Bass


Song List:


What Time Is Love?                           KLF

A Day in the Life                                Black Riot

Can U Party?                                      Royal House

Cubik                                                   808 State

The Groove That Won't Stop           Kevin Saunderson

Pacific 202                                           808 State

Can U Dance?                                     Fast Eddie Smith


Description - a collection of classic acid house songs for live jazz band.  The show can run 30min - 2 hours.  It is designed as a "rave", running continuously with a strong emotional contour.  It can exist as concert piece, or, for dancing.


The original conception of this project was conceptual,

video, and installation artist Jeremy Deller, and the

original arrangements were made for traditional brass

band the Fairey Band by Rodney Newton.  There is a

fun and interesting story as to how these charts came

to be - please visit

for more information.



I also have my own unusual story of how this music came

to me and evolved, stating with an inquiry...


An Unusual Question:


In 2005, I received a call from the Power Plant Gallery in Toronto asking me an unusual question in this neck of the woods, especially from an art gallery:  "Do you know what a brass band is?"  My connection to the art gallery was through an improvising group, "The Woodchoppers Association".  They are an eclectic ensemble with musicians of many colours and strips with whom I've had the good fortune to play with.   But I do know of the brass band from my classical side, and have both played with and composed for this "unusual" group.  In Canada, it isn't nearly as common as in England, but there are a few, and one exceptional band called "The Hannaford Street Silver Band" whom I had performed with and composed for.


A traditional brass band, for those not in the know, is an ensemble that was formed in England during the 19th century.  


At any rate, after it was established that I knew what a brass band was, and that I would know how to assemble one, they hired me to do so for an art exhibit.  The scores were settings of Acid House music!?


Concert music...or dance party?


It was quite the surprise to see the Acid Brass charts.  At first, I could hardly believe how simple and repetitive they were.  But, some nice chords, and a funky'ish groove, would be fun and not too difficult to pull off.  The budget was sorted, and I was able to save them some cash by reducing the ensemble to about 18, rather than 23.  The tenor horn parts, for instance, take 3 staves in the score, but are unison from note one till the end.  3 players were not necessary. 


I also began the tweaking and reassembling of the score.  My first urges were to create transitions between the pieces, so that the groove didn't stop (well, except a bit here and there) - but the music/sound is continuous until the piece is over - a grand arch, like a rave.  This was easily done, as some pieces could just splice easily into the next, and then I just wrote something simple to make a few other connections.


I also added in solos - on timbales + trumpet, and trombone - just at a few spots along the journey. 


Problem - Solution:


The performance was a big hit, and we were immediately hired to perform twice more, including the Canada Day celebrations at the outdoor Harbourfront amphitheater - fun!  But after getting the contract, I realized that they wanted 50 minutes for the Canada Day show, and the charts were only about 25-30.  Rather than try and stretch these charts out, I hired a band I was playing with - Kanaka - to join forces, adding repertoire from our material, and allowing the Acid Band charts to morph.  I could with few modifications, reduce the brass parts to 9.  Although still strong in brass, the adding of electric guitar, bass, and keyboards added much potential to the arrangements.  Again, it was a fun, memorable performance.


Opportunity Knocks:


A couple of years passed, and the music was stashed, until I got a call from none other than Elley Ray Hennessey!  What a name - ha!  At any rate, Ms. Hennessey was wondering if I could put together a brass trio to trumpet people in to her huge party for 5000.  I don't just didn't feel right - I guess I'm greedy - wanted to do something bigger, so I convinced her to hire Acid Brass + Kanaka set for her party.  It seemed like the perfect fit.  At this point I was realizing these charts had some serious potential.  I decided to spend the time making my own set of charts, not just Frankenstein from the originals.  This freed up all kinds of possibilities. I created extended sections with new materials, and added all kinds of space for performers to improvise and inject their creativity.


Fast forward another 4 years, and another ripe opportunity comes up to play Acid Brass.  It was part of the Esprit Orchestra's New Wave Composer's festival.   Again, I tweaked out a few sections, added another song, and also created a few sections that would have spoken word poetry.  The inspiration for the poetry was to evoke a sense of open community - a spirit of joy and love - a strong sense of the now - something that I have felt attending raves.




As I write this, I am in the process of organizing two more performances of Acid Brass.  It will be interesting to see where these charts go.  It certainly is a lot of fun to play, so I hope we have many more performances in the future. I have a notion that this might actually be able to transform into a kind of hip hop/break dance ballet.  It has been fun to grow these charts through new opportunities - a kind of evolving musical expression, touching on many cultures and traditions, and finding an interesting place for these to mingle and titillate.












bottom of page