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!
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;
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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
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.
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.
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
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!
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.
For those of you who haven’t heard… The Australian Jazz Real Book is an actual thing. This book, available as hard copy or an e-book, contains about 400 pages of jazz tunes composed by Australian jazz artists. It is such a great idea and one that is now into its second edition. Imagine being on a gig and someone calls ”Is it Spring Yet?” by Tony Gould, “Dawnbird” by Mike Nock, “Red Door” by Scott Tinkler or this one…
Yep I have a tune in it! The old Mace Francis hit, Melodian Melody is in the book.
The layout is similar to the original legal published real books with an index for song titles and another index for composers name, also some great black and white photos of Australian jazz artists. Make sure you get yourself a copy – a big bound book or something you can download onto your IPad.
The first annual Perth International Jazz Festival kicks off this weekend (May 24-26) all over the city. MFO is playing on Saturday (May 25) in the Perth Cultural Centre at 3.30pm. It will be a chance to hear our new guitarist Harry Winton with the band. He was sounding awesome in rehearsal so the skies the limit! He will be featured on some new music that we will be recording later in the year.
The weekend will also be a chance, not only to hear killer international acts, but some locals guys who have made the trek back from the States. Troy Roberts, THE GRID and Sam Anning with be cool to check out!
The Australian Bell Awards have come and gone and so did my chance to take one home. I am still pretty excited to have been even nominated for one and my congratulations go to all of those who took an award home, or left one in the back of a taxi on the way home. It was a great night and so good to catch up with some Melbourne friends.
It was a fun night and a great excuse to hang in Melbourne for a few days. Even being punched in the head randomly on Russell St didn’t hamper my time in Melbourne.
Make sure you check out all the winners HERE and check out their great music. I especially like by Magnet (Best Contemporary Jazz Album) and Sacophile by Marc Hannaford (Best Original Jazz Album) - great Australian jazz!
Below is a video of Decibel Ensemble performing my piece “From Traffic Rises”. The ensemble also features some of my MFO friends Ricki Malet (trumpet), Andrew Gioia (trumpet), Ben Collins (alto sax) and Sean Little (tenor sax). Big thanks to Stuart James for helping make my electronic soundscape dreams come true. Thank you also to Cat Hope for the commission and coughing solo.