Hi. It has been quite a while since posting and so much has happened! 2015 & 2016 have been very kind to me and I hope the fun times continue!
I finally graduated for PhD studies – officially Dr Mace now. It was quite a journey and I learnt a lot, but boy I am glad that is over! The thesis is published online HERE and you can listen to the music I created as part of the project. A huge thank you to my supervisor Cat Hope for getting me through, even if it was kicking and screaming sometimes!
I was also very honoured to be awarded the Faculty of Education and the Arts Research Medal for best Masters and PhD graduate of 2015. Super exciting! Not bad for a kid that almost failed year 12 English! Take that Belmont High School! I got to play dress ups to celebrate!
It was both a surprise and an honour to find out that I was the recipient of the Jazz Work of the Year award at the 2015 APRA/AMCOS Art Music Awards for my recent MFO recording – Music For Average Photography. An absolute honour to be in the company of musical idols of mine, Paul Grabowski and Simon Barker as well as good friend Daniel Susnjar. I would like to thank APRA /AMCOS for the award an recognition of the hard work that went into the composition process and the recording. I would also like to say a huge thank you to the band for, again, bring my music to life and making the process so enjoyable!!! I love you guys!
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.