Playing with Fire

Full Function Bands - Cape Town
Playing with Fire


As a collective, Playing with Fire offers a wide variety of ensembles for social functions, and as an agency. Playing with Fire is both a collective of musicians and also an agency devoted to promoting music in Cape Town.

Playing with Fire offers the French/Mediterranean quartet Ooh La La!, a Balkan Gypsy Band, a jazz trio and solo saxophone with backtracks.

Matthew comes from Durban, where his first lessons were with Werner Dannewitz. He attained his B.Mus.Hons degree in performance from UCT with Leslie Craven, and completed a postgraduate course at the Royal College of Music in London. He has a diploma in Orchestral Studies (Dip NCOS) from Goldsmiths College in Greenwich. He won the SASOL and Oude Meester Prizes for instrumentalists in 1986. He studied with Alfred Prinz in Vienna, Guy Deplus in Paris and John McCaw in London. He recorded Peter Klatzow's Clarinet Concerto with the Cape Town Symphony Orchestra in 1992, and his Sonata with pianist Pieter van Zyl.

Matthew gave the first performances of Oswaldo Golijov's extraordinary "Dreams and Prayers of Isaac the Blind" in this country with the Sontonga Quartet.

The "Playing with Fire Balkan Gypsy Band" was a founder band of Cape Town's popular Balkanology Parties, playing at the first four of them. Matthew was the music director of the annual Yiddish Song Festival in the Baxter Theatre for eleven consecutive years. He currently runs a monthly concert series in Constantia.


  • Playing with Fire's Jazz Trio comprises Matthew Reid (clarinet, sax), keith Tabisher (guitar) and double bassist Brydon Bolton. Matthew was a SASOL Prize winner in 1986 on the clarinet. The trio plays warm and infectious South African and American jazz standards as well as Balkan and Gypsy music.
  • Cape Town's French quartet Ooh La La! instantly transports listeners to the banks of the Seine or the steps of Montmatre. Accordionist Andre van Vuuren plays an authentic Musette accordion, with Matthew Reid on clarinet, Kerryn Torrance on violin and Brydon Bolton on double bass. This charming strolling ensemble is ideal for playing on lawns and mingling with guests.
  • Playing with Fire's Balkan Gypsy Band was a founder band of the famous Cape Town Balkanology parties, and played for the first four of them. Although at those parties there were 13 members, these days the ensemble comprises a strolling trio (sax, accordion and tuba), an instrumental quintet (same as the trio, but with jazz guitar and percussion in addition) as well as a full band with singer. Their repertoire is infectious and makes for an instant party!
  • Solo Saxophonist Matthew Reid has been playing clarinet and saxophone for nearly forty years, studying performance at UCT and London's Royal College of Music. He was a SASOL prize winner in 1986.
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