Abandoning the staid streets of Sydney – and his studies at the conservatory – Ades moved to New York in 1981 at the age of 19. Precocious and eager for visceral experience, he spent nearly every night for the next three years sitting in at The Blue Book on 145th St witnessing greats such as Jack McDuff, Sonny Stitt, Roy Haynes, Stanley Turrentine and Freddie Hubbard. Alternatively inspired and humbled by what he heard, it was Harlem that essentially taught Ades to play.
In 1991 he released his debut album Bird on a Head, which was acclaimed as “groundbreaking new music”. Living in Asia for much of the 90s with his wife, the Australian painter Melissa Thompson, Ades appeared regularly at jazz clubs and festivals in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand with such luminaries as Arturo Sandoval, Mike Stern and Indra Lesmana.
Returning to Australia in 1998, he relocated to Bangalow, a small town in the hills of Byron Bay, where he formed the band FATS with Scott Tinkler, Greg Sheehan and Thierry Fosmalle. Together they’ve released two albums, FATS and Juicy Shoots, and have performed at the Wangaratta International Jazz Festival, The Brisbane Biennial and The Byron Bay Blues and Roots Festival. From 1999 to 2004 Ades also taught saxophone and jazz studies at Southern Cross University.
In 2000 Ades teamed up with his old mentor Treloar to perform SHADES: In Memoriam Roger Frampton at the Sydney Opera House and later at the Wangarratta International Jazz Festival, which was also recorded for ABC’s Listening Room. It was at the 2000 Wangarratta Festival that he was invited to perform with New York bassist and composer Mark Helias and his trio Open Loose. Playing informally with Helias and tenor saxophonist Tony Malaby during his yearly pilgrimages to New York, in May 2011 Ades decided to record his second album, titled A Glorious Uncertainty, with Helias, Malaby and drummer Gerald Cleaver.
In 2008 Ades recorded an album with saxophonist Dale Barlow, formerly of Art Blakey Jazz Messengers, and bassist Essiet Essiet, along with Joe Locke on vibraphone and Sean Wayland on piano. Along with yearly stints in New York, Ades also regularly visits Europe, recently performing in Paris, Amsterdam, Italy and London.
Following another recent performance in Italy in 2011 Ades toured with Sydney composer and tenor saxophonist Matt Keegan in support of their celebrated album The Matt Keegan Trio Meets David Ades. He also regularly performs with the popular Australian group the Cat Empire in Australia and in 2007 he was invited to be the featured soloist with The Cat Empire and the Australia Youth Orchestra at an event staged at the Iwaki Auditorium at Melbourne’s South Bank. He also helped facilitate the improvisation workshops with the orchestra.
Alternatively ferocious and tender, Ades approaches his instrument with a fervour and abandon as beautiful as it is shocking. Still willingly teetering on the edge of the musical abyss, he shows no signs of slowing down.
Featuring Jamie Oehlers (tenor), Pete Jeavons (bass) and Jacob Evans (drums)