Mace Francis

Mace Francis

The Redcoats

Here is the Redcoats live version of Wolf Like Me with my horn arrangement mixed very quietly under the band.  It is a pretty cool song!  Enjoy

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Silent film with live sound track

On Saturday night Ricki Malet (trumpet), Greg Brenton (drums) and myself (guitar) were part of a night called Cinematic Scores IV hosted by Parenthesis Records at the PS Art Space in Fremantle.  What a great space!  The three of us improvised a soundtrack to the 1929 surrealist film “Un Chien Andalou” by Luis Bunuel and Salvador Dali – such an odd film.  See below to check out the outcome from the nigh.  We had fun and hope to do something like that again.

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WAYJO 2014 Program Launch

We launched our 2014 program last night at The Ellington Jazz Club.  How very exciting!  It is so good to finally be able to officially share our plans for this year.  Highlights of the program kick start off this Monday Feb 10th) at the Perth Concert Hall playing Duke Ellington’s Sacred Music with the Cape Town Opera Chorus as part of the Perth International Arts Festival.  TICKETS HERE.  We then have internationally renowned composer/trombonist Ed Neumeister join us on April 10th & 11th – two nights at The Ellington.

We will perform this years composers in residence (Elliott Hughes & Tim Newhouse) music at the Perth International Jazz Festival on the weekend of May 9-11.  We will be joined by John Morrison & Jacki Cooper (SYD) as well as a swag of local singers on August 16th at The Astor Theatre.  We will finish the year off with Duke Ellington’s Nutcracker Suite on November 8th & 9th at the lovely Quarry Amphitheatre.

As well as the performance highlights we have 2 international exchange programs with Showa University of Music in Japan and the University of Graz in Austria.  There will be improvisation and composition workshops, national and interstate tours and the new Young Women in Jazz Program in partnership with SIMA.

What a year we have planned – and that’s not even all of it!  If you want to keep up to date with WAYJO – visit www.wayjo.com and sign up to the mailing list.  In the mean time check out our 2014 program on line and mark these dates down in your diary.

Adam with his beloved programs

Adam with his beloved programs

Hope to see you at a gig soon.

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It’s been a while!

It has been a while since my last blog and a bit has happened.  The silly season has come and gone and we are now into February – how the hell did that happen?

Since my last blog I have done some travelling.  I was in Graz, Austria around the end of November last year, just after the nonet tour.  This was part of an exchange between WAYJO and the Kunstuniverstitat Graz.  I visited for 10 days to check out the university facilities, meet the staff, do some teaching and performed a concert of my music with the Graz Composers Orchestra.  They have amazing staff and the students are at a high level, especially the composition students – how could you go wrong with Ed Partyka, Ed Neumeister and Mike Abene on staff?

The concert with the Graz Composers Orchestra was great fun.  We only got 1 rehearsal but the band were great and so it was not problem.  I got pretty nervous at the start of the concert because Carla Bley, Steve Swallow, Mike Abene and Ed Neumiester were all in the audience.  Good times, especially for a big band nerd like me.

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Carla Bley and Steve Swallow were at the Uni during the same time I was there (nicely timed, thanks Ed).  It was so great to be able to sit in rehearsals, workshops and watch their gigs.  What beautiful, kind, giving people.  The round table discussions were really insightful.  Lesson learnt – write music every day!

After getting back from Graz it was time for my PhD recital.  I performed 3 pieces that I have been working on.  This went really well and the ensemble was great.  They really helped me out with their commitment and enthusiasm to play.  It is such a pleasure to have great musical friends.  Now the recital is done it is time to write the thesis.  I am getting there but it feels like the more I do, the more I realise how much I still have to do.  A bit at a time and I will get there – right?

Christmas and New Years was awesome – hanging with my Perth family – the Sherwoods.  We have a mad Christmas day tradition and then Gab and I chill out big time on Boxing Day.  It was then off to Yallingup for about 10 days to relax and prep fro the next few months of thesis writing (and other things).

Mid January I had a whirl wind trip to Japan, as part of another exchange program we are setting up with WAYJO.  2 days in Tokyo to meet with the staff at Showa University and the sponosors of the exchange (ALNG).  It was such a quick visit but I still managed to see a bit of the city and eat some amazing food.  Check this vegan sushi plate out!

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So now I am back on track, writing thesis and preparing for a big WAYJO concert coming up on Monday Feb 10th.  We are performing Duke Ellington’s Sacred Music with the Cape Town Opera Chorus at the Perth Concert Hall as part of the Perth International Arts Festival.  It will be huge!  So excited!  If you are interested – TICKETS HERE.

There you have it – a brief catch up of the last few months – now we are back on track.  Thanks for reading.  Speak soon

 

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Nonet Tour

The Mace Francis Nonet tour was short and sweet, much like myself, but we had a lot of fun and played some great gigs.

We left for Melbourne from Perth at 5:30am on Thursday (yes the guys loved me for that!) and were there ready and primed to play at The Paris Cat Jazz Club in Melbourne’s CBD.  Not a big club at all but has a huge vibe and the people running the club are great.  We had a full house of friends, family, Perth ex-pats and punters.  Thanks for coming down!

Playing Tonight!

Playing Tonight!

After a relatively early night (for tour standards) we head up to Wangaratta Festival of Jazz.  This is was very exciting for me as it was the first time performing in the main program.  We played in the WPAC Hall which is the smaller room off the main hall.  I have seen a lot of great music over the years at that festival.  Our performance was received well and got a pretty good REVIEW from John McBeath in the Australian Newspaper.

“Unusually for a jazz combo, the Mace Francis Nonet has leader and composer Francis out front, this time directing nine fine young Perth musicians, all capable of impressive section playing and soloing. His compositions were interesting and intelligent with something to say, while the voicings, using tenor and alto sax, bass clarinet with trombone and trumpet, were remarkable.” John McBeath

another great review from Sydney vocalist Jacki Cooper;

“Compositions – Intriguing; Tuning – impeccable; MCing – hilarious”

Despite being on at the same time as one of the headline acts we still got a great crowd.  It was so good to see Greg Waugh and Doug McKenzie there as they were my first real jazz teachers when I first studied in Geelong.

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It was also great to see and hear so many other Listen/Hear Collective artists at the festival.  The Sam Anning Trio with Julien Wilson and Allan Browne were an absolute highlight for me.  The Callum G’Froerer Group were strange and wonderful effortlessly weaving in and out of soundscapes and structured compositions.  Peter Knight performed in a few ensembles but I only caught his solo set in the cathedral which was the perfect place for his solo trumpet and laptop set.  Gian Slater, although not at the festival this year with her Invenio Choir, was also at the festival singing with pretty much everyone.

It was a lot of fun and I really hope I can get the nonet or MFO back there again soon.

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Recording

Well we did it!  The tracking has been done and we got a lot of great takes of each piece.  It was a pretty intense 3 days recording from 9.30am – 6pm each day – they are long days for musicians.  Our engineer was very patient, helpful and some how put up with all our crap talk in between takes.

MFO Recording3
We decided to all record in the same room sitting in a square.  This allowed us to all hear each other and play without headphones, just like we do when we rehearse and perform.  Previous experience from everyone was that headphones are a total drag and wastes so much time setting up and getting right.  The solos were also done live in the room.  The down side is that editing is much more limited but we were all after the “vibe” much more so than anything else.  I think we got it.
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Greg Brenton used 3.5 different drum kits throughout the recording to great effect and everyone bought their A game to the sessions, even the clarinet parts!  I am really proud of the band and what we all achieved in those 3 days and am looking forward to getting into the mixing process soon, after some time away from my music.
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We also managed to fit in a very high tech and professional photo shoot for the MFO 2014 Calendar.  This years theme is My Favourite Object.  I was really surprised with what the guys bought as their favourite object – some strange guys in that band!  For those who pledged $60 and above to the pozible campaign, this will be coming to you before the new year.  For those who didn’t stay tuned!
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Lead up to the Recording

First off – Thank you to everyone who gave to our Pozible Campaign.  We made above our target amount!!!  We now have the funds to tune the clarinet – thank goodness.

It has been a pretty intensive week for the MFO gang.  We spent 3 days out in the bush in Dwellingup, 1.5 hours south of Perth, to rehearse intensively and be out of all mobile and internet range – Band Camp! (no flute parts)  It was a great experience to just focus on the music with no distractions.

Nanga Bush Camp

Nanga Bush Camp

The goal was to get these 10 new compositions up and ready to record.  The compositions are are not like my usual 8-10min pieces.  The mission was to compose a series of shorter pieces (4-5min) that still say everything that needs to be said musically.  It is amazing how much you can get done in a day with great musicians and no distractions.  The 3 days were really productive and gave us time to get into the detail of the music and make it feel good.

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BBQ Central looking towards the rehearsal Roundhouse

The days were filled with full band rehearsals, sectionals, individual practice, basket ball, klop, bbq’s, open fires and knife fights – just the usual.

Sax sectional

Sax sectional

Rehearsing in the Roundhouse

Rehearsing in the Roundhouse

With all 10 new compositions rehearsed we performed a preview concert at The Ellington Jazz Club on Monday Oct 7th.  It was a great night and another chance to play through the music leading up to the recording this weekend.  The band is sounding great and I am really happy with this collection of new music.  We are all excited to get into the studio and get it down.  Wish us luck!

MFO at The Ellington Jazz Club October 7th 2013 photo by Mar Knox

MFO at The Ellington Jazz Club
October 7th 2013
photo by Mar Knox

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My Nonet to play at 2013 Wangaratta Festival of Jazz

I am pretty excited to be playing at this years Wangaratta Festival of Jazz.  It is the first time that I have played the main program.  I have been to this festival many times over the years and seen so much great music.  Highlights for me over the years have been the Australian Art Orchestra performing Into the Fire, Graeme Lyall & Tony Gould duo, The Hoodangers, anything with Steve Magnusson in it, the hilarity of some of those old jam sessions and seeing friends succeed and fail (I mean – not win) in the National Jazz Awards.

I will be performing music from my last album – Land Speed Record – with a nonet made up of Perth musicians;

Ben Collins – Alto & Sop Sax / Luke Minness – Tenor Sax / Phillip Everall – Bass Clarinet

Ricki Malet – Trumpet / Blake Phillips – Trombone

Harry Winton – Guitar / Harry Mitchell – Piano / Robin Murray – Bass / Greg Brenton – Drums

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NEW MFO CD – Coming Soon

Hi.  The Mace Francis Orchestra (MFO) will be going into the studio to record a new CD called Music for Average Photography.  The music has been inspired by a series of 14 humorous photographs taken by myself.  They are a way to bring humour and fun into what can sometimes be a serious world of jazz.  It will be the second time that MFO has recorded a CD in a studio as we usually favour recording live.  This is really exciting for us.  To make it possible we can launched a crowd funding Pozible Campaign to raise some funds to help out with the recording costs.  If you would like to support this project you can by going to www.pozible.com/mfophoto and choosing an amount for which you will be rewarded for.  Your support is always appreciated.  Check out the high quality video I made, letting you know about the project – enjoy!

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Jazz a Couches

Its official, my first international gig as a guest composer/conductor in Europe is organised for July 3rd at at jazz festival in France called Jazz a Couches.  The festival is held in a region called Couches which is a 3 hour drive south from Paris.  I will be working will a youth jazz orchestra (musicians aged between 18-25 y/o) called l’Orchestre des Jeunes Jazzmen de Bourgogne (OJJB) which is usually under the direction of the great vibraphonist, and all round nice guy, Franck Tortiller.

Check out a great promo of the band

I must say the VISA situation to work in France is a lot less of an issue than working in the USA – 1 form – done – Thanks France!

I am looking forward to hanging with Franck and the OJJB gang soon.  I will let you know how it goes.

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