MFO was formed late in 2005 by band-leader and composer Mace Francis to experiment with composition, in the style of the great modern big bands lead by Bob Brookmeyer, Thad Jones, Bill Holman and Maria Schneider. The result has been the coming together of 14 of Perth’s finest emerging young musician’s and composers to create exciting new music for big band.
Over the last 6 years MFO has developed an individual and original sound through regular performances, tours and special projects commissioning of over 40 new works from Australian and International composers.
Highlights for the band so far have been; 4 national tours (2006, 2008, 2010 & 2011), performances with international jazz artists, Jim Pugh (USA), Jon Gordon (NY), John Hollenbeck (Berlin), Theo Bleckmann (NY) and Satoko Fujii (Japan), 6 CD recordings and being invited to be part of the American ArtistShare website for the Chinese Whispers collaborative composition project.
In 2009 MFO released their fifth recording, titled Neverever… Well, Maybe Someday launched at the Perth Jazz Society.
“These layered compositions and scoring convey colour, atmosphere and movement far more effectively and with greater interest than the stock standard arrangements often heard from big bands. Francis, understandably, has attracted international interest with his outstanding orchestra and compelling compositions.”
John McBeath – The Weekend Australian Newspaper
Mace is a big band junky, graduating with honours from WAAPA – Bachelor in Music (Jazz Composition and Arranging). In 2004 he was awarded the APRA Professional Development Award for jazz composition which allowed him to travel to Vienna to study with composers – Ed Partyka and Bob Brokkmeyer.
Since 2004 Mace’s main musical outlet has been his 14-piece group Mace Francis Orchestra (MF)) and the hounds – a 7-piece modern trad swing group.
MFO have released 3 CDs of original music and the hounds have just released a live limited edition CD recorded at the Perth Jazz Society.
In 2008 Mace has become the Musical Director of the WA Youth Jazz Orchestra (WAYJO) and has begun lecturing arranging and composition at the WA Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA).