Isolation Emancipation has been out for a couple of months now and getting some nice airplay and reviews. Thank you to those who have bought or streamed the album. It is really appreciated.
Some highlights so far have been:
+Featured Album of the Week: MBS Fine Music Sydney
+Track of the Day: All About Jazz
+New Jazz Release Playlist: JazzFuel
+Fresh Picks Playlist: West Australian Music
…and some nice words from…
Adorned in catchy rhythms and attractive harmonies, the music’s appeal is noticeable from the start, crafting a slew of subliminal, melodic passages. Francis’s astuteness for detail and his penchant for harmony is perceivable, reeling in the audience from the start. Jazz2Love Blog
Francis has a wry sense of humor in naming some of the tunes like “Casserole for Two,” “The Pudding Song,” “Isolation Emancipation” and “The Monk, The Drunk and Derek the Researcher.” Francis has created just short of an hour of fun listening on Isolation Emancipation.
Joe Lang – New Jersey Jazz Magazine: Dec 2021
“Isolation Emancipation,” the album’s title track is a delicious, cool number that struts and strolls right into your home and with a finger snap or two transforms your place into the hippest club, full of merriment, music, and dancing. You’ll be tapping your toes and smiling, and not wanting reality to return to whatever it was before this tune began. Michael Doherty
The best way to purchase music and support artists is through BandCamp – so please check out my Music Page and give it a Follow.
Howdy folks… I have been working on a new album this year for a slightly smaller sized big band – 12-piece. I have, again, creatively named this band after myself (ha!): Mace Francis Plus 11, as a nod to the Marty Paich bands in the 1950s. I love those albums he arranged and recorded with Art Pepper, Ella Fitzgerald and Mel Torme.
The new album was recorded in early June and we are mixing now and will be releasing the in November with a launch concert. Please stay tuned for that event at Lyrics Underground!
The idea for this project came from a Japanese friend, who asked me “Why do you only write sad songs? Are you sad?” Good question (thank you Yoko)… I do love the sound of dark rich harmony and sad melodies: they make me happy… but so do fun swingin’ tunes with great soloists, like the musicians on this album! Check out this line up:
Vocals: Lucy Iffla
Saxes: Gemma Farrell, Jayden Blockley, Jemima Mills
Trumpets: Marty Pervan, Ricki Malet
French Horn: Tahlia Denn
Trombones: Steve Bickley, Mace Francis
Piano: Harry Mitchell
Bass: Alistair Peel
Drums: Bronton Ainsworth
Here is also a preview of the album artwork by good friend, Annie Mitchell.
WAYJO‘s first performance of the 2020 Homegrown Season was due to be in late March 2020… since then a lot has happened and we have had to cancel the program as it stands. During the downtime WAYJO has been planning and reconsidering a lot of what we do.
One this I did with the Wednesday Night Orchestra was make some isolation edition videos of songs that we were going to perform at different concerts. Below are three video we made with everyone recording their parts from home on their phone or computer. I hope you enjoy and make sure you subscribe to the WAYJO YouTube Channel.
For awhile now I have been thinking about a series of really simple questions to ask lots of different musicians and composers that I know and respect. The questions would need to be simple and vague enough to allow different interpretations. When the lock down happened in March 2020, I saw this was an opportunity to get in contact with lots of people and talk deeply about music, and so 3 Questions was born.
In these short 15-20min interviews, now up on YouTube I ask musicians and composers, from various backgrounds, the same 3 simple questions about music.
1. Why do you have music in your life?
2. How do you make music?
3. What excites you musically right now?
This week I release my 10th episode of 3 Questions with New York big band composer Sara McDonald. To celebrate I have made a little highlights reel of the first 10 artists. Hear what everyone has to say, check out the links to their music in the description section, enjoy, Like the Facebook Page and Subscribe to my YouTube Channel. There is plenty more to come!
During this Covid-19 lock down period I have spent sometime learning how to use some simple audio and video editing software…and I mean simple! However I am pretty happy with these videos. These two are a collaboration with singer/songwriter Greg Brenton and brass quartet Spatula. These two tunes are songs of Greg’s that I have arranged with the four brass. I hope we can perform these live soon and hope we can get a few more together.
In 2017, a good friend, Victor O’Connor asked me to compose a piece to play at his funeral. He had been sick for a very long time, fighting the good fight like the stubborn bastard he was, but his cancer was getting more aggressive and he knew the end was near. A heartbreaking task and one that I resisted for awhile. When I agreed, he then sent through LOTS of youtube links of pieces to influence me and the piece… lots of Zappa, Turkish folk music, psychedelic rock and other weird stuff… there was nothing sombre or sad.
A few months later he passed away on January 22, 2018. I miss you buddy! I was able to play him a rehearsal recording while he was in hospital…I got a wicked twisted smile and weak hoarse “fuck yeah!”. I really wish he was there to enjoy the party he organised.
Here is a live recording made by WAYJO at the Quarry. It features Alana Macpherson on soprano sax and was lovingly mixed by Kieran Kenderessy from the desk recording. Here it is available for your downloading or steaming pleasure. You can also give a small amount to help with the composer fund
At the start of 2019 I put together a swing band called The 950 Local. This is an 8-piece band that plays music specifically for swing dancers and Lindy Hoppers. We have played at The Mustang Bar and the Duke of George and a few other venues around Perth. This band has also expanded to The 950 Express which is a 15-piece big band version of the smaller band.
You can follow these bands on Instagram at @the9fifty.
The 950 Express has been playing a monthly residence (the last Thursday of the month) at a new venue in Fremantle called Freo.Social. This night, called Freo.Speakeasy, is a night dedicated to learning swing dancing and dancing along to the swinging repertoire of Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Jimmie Lunceford and Benny Goodman. We will be back starting January 23.
We finished our year at the Quarry Amphitheatre playing our 11th year of Jazz on the Rocks. Here is the great swinging tune Deed I Do from Ella & Basie featuring Lucy Iffla on vocals.
I have been a little lax with the website posts – oops! A couple years between drinks, but a lot has happened since the last post.
The most exciting being a new MFO recording called Love Songs I Love. This is an album of five of my favourite standards, this time available as LP, CD and Digital Download. I have always wanted to have my own LP and this cover looks amazing in the LP size! … very exciting. Please check it out on BandCamp and order a copy!