It is hard to believe that MFO has been together for 10 years. We had our very first gig in April 2005 at the Lazy Susan Comedy Lounge – a small room with theatre seating and bean bags all over the floor. A great fun room where we played every month for almost a year. A great way to start the life of a new band.
Photo from first gig at Lazy Susan’s
I am really proud that I have been able to keep the band actively playing, touring and recording over these 10 years. The longest we have gone without playing a gig was five moths, which happened just a few years ago while in the middle of my PhD. I guess I just lost track of time!
We celebrated our 10th birthday on April 30th 2015 at The Ellington Jazz Club. A super fun gig! The band played great and it was such a fun vibe!
As it was my party, I made sure that I fulfilled a long time dream of playing trombone in a big band! I have a feeling I didn’t get the gig, but it was a lot of fun trying!
Me struggling with the 2nd trombone part!
Talking a whole lot of rubbish – no doubt!
It has all been such a blast! – the 4 national tours, the 6 CD recordings, the tons of original music and countless gigs. Each band member has bought their own unique voice to the band and steered it into a different direction – all the musicality, time and dedication has been incredible! I love you all. A special heart felt thank you goes to Ben Collins, Ricki Malet, Greg Brenton and Mark Sprogowski for sticking with the band the whole 10 years! Amazing! A dream come true! I feel so lucky to have you all as my musical family!
Hi – It has been a long time coming but MFO is ready to release their 6th album called Music For Average Photography.
We recorded this at the end of last year at Loop Studios with Kieran Kenderessy and with the help of our wonderful pozible supporters was able to create an album of new music which I am really proud of. The idea of creating 10 short “songs”, rather than a few epically long compositions is a departure from my usual composition aesthetic, but I really enjoyed the process of creating these shorter compositions and making sure I needed to say what I wanted in a shorter amount of time. Each piece, except 2, features a single soloist at their very best!
Each “song” is really different and was inspired the very average photographs which are featured in the CD booklet.
MFO will be celebrating our 9th birthday in style at the PS Art Space in Fremantle on May 22nd. On the night we will be joined guitarist Tim Jago who used play in the band until he moved to Miami for further study and general awesomeness – he is just visiting from the USA for a short time. It will be great to get out some of the charts that Tim used play on – What About Jed?, Jelly Belly etc. There might even be a guitar shred battle between Tim and Harry!
We will also be joined by new Perth jazz/rock band – FAT SPARROW featuring Luke Minness, Ricki Malet, Harry Winton, Karl Floreson and Greg Brenton. Their debut gig at The Ellington the other night was so great!
We are all looking forward to this one! Don’t forget the door prizes!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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
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