Vintage Brasswinds Australia

“Vintage Brasswinds Australia” is located in Croydon North, Victoria. and is a registered business name of David Perkins.

My recollections of music began with listening to my mother playing the hymns and Bach voluntaries on the church organ in Kalgoorlie W.A. when at a very young age – in about 1950 – I was taken to evening service to sleep during the service. Although my musical affection moved to jazz, I have an abiding love for Bach [whether played by Albert Schweitzer on the organ, sung by the Swingle Singers, or played in brass by Canadian Brass]. My parents had a good collection of 10 and 12 inch 78 r.p.m. records – some classical, and many operatic or popular vocals, but not really any brass or jazz: the prejudices of those days – in common with some elements of society in many other countries – prevented jazz, or improvised music – anything other than “serious” music – from being welcome, or even tolerated.

After enjoying learning the violin for a few years – and infringing the rule that you are only allowed to play what’s written on the page – I went as a 15 year old to Bob Clemens Music store in Russell Street, Melbourne where I came across an already vintage silver Buescher “Grand” trombone, one of the first with a threaded slide attachment. Bob told me that it had been traded in by Bill Howard, trombonist for Melbourne’s fabulous “Red Onions” jazz band, that I could have it for 80 pounds, and yes – he would let me pay it off. I was delighted with my new musical venture and within three months had been introduced to the music of King Oliver’s Dixie Syncopators, and was playing jazz in a band called “The Sidewalk Syncopators” along with some other schoolboy musicians [Richard Franklin – who later directed a remake of one of Alfred Hitchcocks classics; Felix Blatt, and later John Scurry on banjo; Russell Wilde [clarinet player – lamented in the Red Onion’s tune “Blues for Russell”] and several others. My journey into the pleasures of jazz, and brass instruments, had begun, and I before long I was back to Bob Clemens Music store for a brand new Boosey & Hawkes Imperial trumpet.

My late sister Janet Perkins – who was conservatorium trained at Melbourne University and became a celebrated Melbourne accompanist, and was the arranger for the Melbourne Pops Orchestra for over a decade – told me her theory: that I took up jazz so that I wouldn’t have to read music. It’s true that for me – playing is less about a slavish adherence to somebody else dots, and much more about a degree of improvisation and personal artistic creativity. But in my loungeroom I love playing along with Bach, Louis Armstrong’s Potato Head Blues, Bix Beiderbecke’s I’m Coming Virginia , Miles Davis’s Sketches of Spain , and the Beatles. To quote Miles Davis: “Good music is good, no matter what kind of music it is.”

I like what Martin Luther King Jr. said in opening the Berlin Jazz Festival in 1964 because to me it represents both a core jazz philosophy and a proclamation of emotion and feeling –

Jazz speaks of life. This is triumphant music.
When life itself offers no order and meaning, the musician creates an
order and meaning from the sound of the earth which flows through his
Much of the power of our freedom movement in the United States has
come from this music.
It has strengthened us with its powerful rhythms when courage began to
It has calmed us with its rich harmonies when spirits were down.
Everybody needs to clap hands and be happy. Everybody longs for faith.
In music, especially this broad category called jazz, there is a stepping
stone toward all of these.”

For several years I ran a musical instrument business selling mainly vintage brass instruments first at Daylesford Market and later in a shop Blown Away Brass on Main Street Croydon, Melbourne.

I now play regularly with a group in Melbourne’s south east as well as playing with Melbourne World Music street band Havana Palava

Havana Palava – Port Fairy Folk Festival 2013

Vintage Instruments

Vintage instruments

Great vintage instruments represent moments in history that expert instrument makers were able to fulfill the demands of musicians for great sounds, and for instruments with mechanics which would enhance the display of their virtuosity. Subject to their individual condition and wear and tear these instruments of mixed metals made by skilled craftsmen from Europe, the UK, and the United States [Markneukirchen, Bohemia, Germany, Chicago, Boston, Elkhart Indiana, New York, Paris, London and Manchester to mention a few] retain their acoustic qualities; and age – in itself – does not cause deterioration.

Except in the case of flutes clarinets and saxophones [in which I don’t have personal expertise] my opinions about vintage instruments are always informed by playing them. I enjoy the repeated revelations about vintage instruments which are exposed when one plays them: the dynamics of instruments can be vastly different from each other; and the feel – in the hands, on the fingers, and in the brain – of some instruments as against others can be like a comparison of chalk and cheese. Sometimes those differences can be altered by springs and felts, commonly by mouthpieces, and sometimes by attention to physical characteristics. Silver bells, copper or red brass bells as against gold brass bells make a difference. Bell flair is a significant factor which differentiates the acoustics of some instruments from others. Everything about the architecture – plumbing and construction – of a particular brass instrument is capable of affecting its potential for making beautiful music.