review of 2015 

What a year. 

2015 was an incredible year of ups and downs: amazing career highlights, great new friendships, seeing long missed friends, operations for family and sad illnesses for friends. Here is an overview of the craziness of 2015. 

To bring in the new year I had the pleasure of performing with The Sax Summit alongside my dear friends Andrew Smith, Nic Russoniello, and Damien Mathieson.  

January continued to be a month of performing. Niels Bijl joined us for the Saxophone Academy Sydney Summer School and we performed throughout Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne. It was 3 weeks of the most inspiring and exhilarating music making with one of the best musicians I have had the privilege to work with. We also bonded so well and are now the bestest of friends. 

Around this time I was also offered my tutoring position at the University of Sydney. An amazing opportunity that would open my eyes to the possibilities of the future.  

The following 3 months became a frenzy of rehearsals, arranging, organising and designing. El Asunto del Tango my debut CD encompassed my life. Thanks so much to Niels for planting the idea, Carmen for allowing it to grow and flourish and my amazing team of musos Michael Klugar, Daniel Rojas, Isabella Brown and Carmen. I'm also forever grateful for my amazing engineer David Kim-Boyle and the great work of Jonathan Palmer. 

During that 3 months of chaos Nexas launched our 2nd concert series and presented an extremely exciting concert with Frank Celata. 

June/July we headed to Europe where El Asunto del tango was launched in Enschede in a quaint pub to a packed crowd. On that trip I also tutored at the Baritone Institute in the Alsace region of France. A week of music making and teaching with Niels Bijl, Jan Manu, Tini Thomsen and the inspiring Joan Marti Frasquier. World Congress awaited and performances with the Baritone Institute, Four Baritones and Nexas Quartet were great fun. 

In Amsterdam we spent a beautiful day bbqing in a park with one of the most phenomenal saxophonists, Ties Mellema, we became great friends over this day and he kindly invited Carmen and I to a live broadcast of the amstel quartet. A very special memory of our time in Europe. 

One of the biggest highlights of the time in Europe was seeing my dearest friend Donny, his wife Maria and their newborn baby Ethan. It was so special to see my best mate so happy. 

When we arrived home Carmen sadly had to go in for another eye surgery. Gratefully Dr Roberts was amazing and Carmen made a full recovery.  

We also heard around this time of the sad news of our good friend Ties and his diagnoses of cancer. A tough time for our new friend and our hearts and prayers were with him.  

The 2nd half of 2015 included the completion of my DMA thesis a 3 year project that finally came to a close. Carmens citizenship ceremony! And the premiere by Nexas of a new ballet by Matthew Hindson and Cyrus Meurant.  

It was an intense year and I pray that 2016 has as many highlights and a lot less lowlights.  

the future is bright. Ties is in remission, competition of the DMA is close, exciting performances ahead with Fernando Ramos, Simon Brew, Michael Jamieson, Nexas Quartet. And the continuation of life's journeys with my beautiful wife. 

El Asunto as CD of the Week on FINE MUSIC FM 102.5 

Fine Music FM 102.5 selected El Asunto del Tango as their CD of the week this week! It was so exciting to hear the album each morning and I am feeling honoured, humbled and privileged that Fine music have supported me so much with this accolade. 

Im glad that so many people have been enjoying the album. If you have yet to purchase your copy you can do so from this website.

"Finally! I spent such a great moment yesterday listening to your beautiful CD! It’s really el Asunto del Tango!
Your interpretation is always so convincing. I especially enjoy your sensibility on baritone!'

Saxophone Academy Sydney Summer School 

Hi all,

Im very excited to announce that our company the Saxophone Academy Sydney will be hosting our 6th Annual Summer School in January 2016. The summer school has become an icon of saxophone education here in Australia and has provided  world class saxophone education and opportunities to over 300 students. Our guest tutors have included 3 local stars, James Nightingale, Christina Leonard and Michael Duke as well as national artist Barry Cockcroft and International artist Niels Bijl.

2016 is shaping up to be a very special year. I am so pleased to have my good friend and mentor Fernando Ramos coming from Portugal to work with us. I have wanted to introduce the Sydney saxophone community to Fernando since my first encounter with him in 2008. He is a phenomenal saxophonist and world-class educator who is a leader in his field not only in his home of Portugal but also throughout Europe.
Fernando has been an inspiration for me for many years and im sure he will be for all the saxophone players in Sydney.

We are also continuing our exciting event in Brisbane and will be traveling to NZ to join forces with Michael Jamieson and Simon Brew, creating the first Australasian Saxophone Summer School. (MORE ON THIS TO COME IN THE NEXT BLOG)

Exciting times ahead.

Thanks to all for coming to my CD launch. 

What an amazing night last night was!

It was very special performing 'El Asunto del Tango' with my fellow musicians for such a receptive and enthusiastic audience.
Thank you so much to all the saxophone players, tangueros, fellow musos, students, friends and family that came along to support us.

A special thanks to Daniel Rojas, Michael Kluger and Isabella Brown for their amazing work on the CD and last night, its a true privilege playing with you.

The biggest thank you must go to Carmen Nieves, my beautiful wife without whom none of this could have happened. Her incredible musical input and performance is inspiring, her dedication to the project and diligent work ethic unmatched and her creativity and care to make last night the amazing event it was for all shows her incredible energy.

We hope you enjoyed the event and ask you to please leave any comments about the event and/or CD on the El Asunto del Tango facebook page.


Review of El Asunto del Tango by Dutch Saxophonist NIELS BIJL 

Australia: everybody owns at least one surfboard, life IS a beach and the wildlife will kill you. To visit the land down under is on millions of bucket lists, but the reasons why make true Ozzies cringe. Same goes for Tango. We all love tango. Piazzolla's so-called greatest invention.

Entrance cue for Jay Byrnes. More Australian than Vegemite, but undoubtedly the undisputed Australasian expert on Latin American Music. His first CD El Asunto Del Tango is a crash course in the history, development and future of tango music. No matter what era, or which saxophone he uses: With invigorating ease, superb narrative skills and obvious passion he will guide you through 99 years of music history. The virtuoso first track Niebla y Cemento is a perfect opening: Jay Byrnes uses his skills not to impress, but simply to tell you a story. This is tango; please take a seat, and listen. Listen to the refreshing new recording of classics like Volver and Che, Bandoneon. Respectfully played, but always with both feet firmly in this new century. La Cumparsita is a real treat: for years it has been a show-off piece for violinists worldwide. Jay plays his alto saxophone with childish ease, and will always leave you smiling and wanting more. And yet these classics are perfectly matched by three (!) world premieres, by Rojas, Muslera and Lerman, proving that tango is very much alive, and so much bigger than this one Astor Piazzolla.
But then you listen to the centrepiece. Track 6. Soledad, by Astor Piazzolla. Pianist Daniel Rojas lays a foundation for a gripping story. Gently, at first, but slowly leaning on dissonants, challenging Jay to come in on his heart-warming baritone sax. Carmen Nieves joins in lovingly, and lifts the same melody to an even higher level with enchanting angelic phrasing. Jay takes the accompanying role very briefly, and invites Michael Kluger to join in on his accordion. Just when you think this ensemble has created the soul of Tango you’re pleasantly surprised to hear the undeniable groundwork of Isabella Brown’s bowed double bass. Within three minutes these musicians explain what music is all about. No ego, no drama. Just simple, accessible melodies, creating the perfect story.

And this is what makes Tango so great. With El Asunto del Tango Jay Byrnes proves that this music is so much more than Astor Piazzolla. Founded by Gerardo Matos Rodríguez, Carlos Gardel, Aníbal Troilo. Carried on by Fernando Lerman, Daniel Rojas, Fernando Muslera. And right in the middle, where he belongs: Astor Piazzolla, the greatest storyteller from Buenos Aires. Not essential to Tango, but impossible to forget.


Just like wombats, or Goulburn’s Big Merino. You cannot imagine Australia without them.

Niels Bijl

The Netherlands

Upcoming concerts 

Hi all,

I have two very exciting events coming up that I would love to see you all at.

7pm 1st August 
Les chants de Saxophone.
Nexas Quartet with Peter Coleman-Wright.
This concert will showcase the new collaboration between the quartet and the world famous singer Peter Coleman-Wright. Works by Weill, Eisler, Bozza, Ibert and an amazing new work by Paul Castles! Bookings recommended.

6.30pm 9th August
El Asunto del Tango CD Launch.
The official launch of my debut album with the amazing Daniel Rojas-Gonzales, Michael Kluger, Isabella Brown and Carmen Nieves-Byrnes. A night of tango with wine and canapés, a celebration of the music, the friendships and the album. Booking essential!

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