Melbourne-based woodwind artist Tony Hicks has performed across Australia and internationally since the late 1970s. He maintains a prolific creative improvisation practice, and works in a range of more commercial contexts: jazz groups, function bands, TV and recording studios, theatre orchestras, big bands and productions by small arts organisations.
As a creative improviser he collaborates with a range of artists including Carlo Carnevali, Dan Sheehan‘s Infinite Ape Trio, and Reassemble with Ren Walters and Phil Collings. Past projects include collaborations with electro-acoustic sound artists including David Tolley and the Bent Leather Band.
Since 2000 he has performed in a number of Australian Art Orchestra projects. He is a key player in Crossing Roper Bar, the orchestra’s acclaimed collaboration with indigenous Wagilak songmen from Ngukurr, Arnhem Land. He is also regularly invited to participate in the Monash Art Ensemble‘s collaborations with various international composers and performers.
In 2012 he completed a practice-based performance masters degree that focusied on free improvisation processes and the development of improvisational facility with microtonality and tone rows. His thesis documents the development of an improvisation language that utilises extended sound making techniques on a range of woodwind instruments.
Other groups he currently performs and records with include the Melbourne Ska Orchestra, the Daryl McKenzie Jazz Orchestra, JMQ, a Jewish wedding band and Ring Wagner Animated, a reimagining of Wagner’s Ring Cycle re-scored for saxophone quartet, bassoon, piano and three singers.
He has worked in orchestras for over eighty musicals including Phantom of the Opera, West Side Story and Porgy and Bess, in studio bands for TV shows such as Dancing With the Stars and Hey Hey It’s Saturday, and performed and recorded with iconic Australian artists including John Farnham, Marina Prior, Anthony Warlow, Tommy Emmanuel and Gurrumul.
He has also has performed with international superstars including Frank Sinatra and Stevie Wonder, Billy Cobham and Randy Brecker.
He was a student of Australian saxophone virtuoso Peter Clinch, a member of the Peter Clinch Saxophone Quartet from 1977 to 1988, and in 1984 reached the national finals of the ABC Concerto and Vocal Competition.
He has taught saxophone, flute, clarinet and ensembles at secondary and tertiary level in many schools and universities in Melbourne since the 1980s.
He also collaborates regularly with Gillian Howell to deliver creative music and composition projects for children in urban and regional settings.