Mike Nock’s career has spanned a broad range of contemporary musical styles and he is widely recognised as an important voice in Australian modern music.
Based in Sydney since 1986, he previously spent 25 years in the USA, working with many of the world’s top jazz artists.
His compositions include orchestral music, woodwind / percussion ensembles, electronic / choral works etc., and have been recorded and performed by a range of jazz & non-jazz performers.
Attracting many awards and honours over his lengthy career in 2014 he was awarded the Don Banks Music Award, the most valuable individual music award in Australia.
In 2009 he was inducted into the Bell Awards Australian Jazz Hall of Fame and in 2003 presented with the New Zealand Order of Merit (ONZM).
In 2010 a biography of Mike’s life and career was published: Serious Fun: The Life and Music of Mike Nock. (Norman Meehan, Victoria University Press) As music director of Naxos Jazz from 1996 to 2002 he oversaw the production of more than 60 internationally released CDs.
“Nock’s ringing iconoclasm pervades all his music, taps a deep well of melody that transcends jazz and informs and ignites his every encounter.” - Fred Bouchard, Downbeat (USA)
Began in 1956 at the Mocambo and El Rocco Jazz Cellar. Active 60’s with groups in Sydney, Melbourne & Adelaide. Formed The Last Straw in 1974 and played with the Judy Bailey Quartet from 1974 to 1979. Since the early 80’s, played mainly in Bernie McGann’s trios and quartets. Toured Russia with The Engine Room in 1989 and with The Last Straw toured New Zealand in 1988, Canada in 1989 and won an ARIA award and toured Russia in 1990. With McGann Trio, performed Ronnie Scott’s London and concerts in Poland, Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, India and Malaysia in 1988, Russia in 1990, Canada in 1993 and 1996. Also Toured Europe in 1996 and the USA in 1997. Won Australian Jazz Critics’ Award in 1990 and 1992. In 2004 his 10 piece group Ten Part Invention are invited to the Chicago Jazz Festival.
His career as a professional musician began in 1956. He formed The Last Straw in 1974 and also played with the Judy Bailey Quartet from 1974 to 1979. Since 1978 he has played, recorded and toured internationally with The Last Straw, The Judy Bailey Quartet, The Engine Room, Ten Part Invention and Bernie McGann’s trios and quartets. As a drummer he is an unusual stylist, playing left handed on a right handed drum kit.
With his own bands and the Bernie McGann trio he has won five ARIA and five ‘MO’ awards.
John Pochée received the Australian Jazz Critic’s Award for drums in 1990 and 1992. In 1992 he also performed an improvised duet with the celebrated Classical pianist Roger Woodward AC MBE at The Sydney Spring Festival. He was elected to the Monsalvat Jazz Festival Roll of Honour in 1996.
At the Australian Jazz Awards in 2006 he was the third inductee into the Graeme Bell “Hall of Fame” for “Career Achievement.” Described as “Overseas Ambassador and Jazz Pioneer” he was nominated for a Classical Music Award in 2007 for “Long Term Contribution to the Advancement of Australian Music”.
In 2008 he delivered the sixteenth annual Bell Jazz Lecture at Waverley Library, Sydney.
On Australia Day 2014 he was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia for services to the Arts as a Jazz Musician (OAM).
Described by Billboard magazine as “An outstanding and imaginative Australian bassist and composer”, Swanton (b. 1960) has performed with many of the cornerstones of Australian music: The Benders, Clarion Fracture Zone, the Bernie McGann Trio, Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Vince Jones, Alpha Centauri Ensemble, the Mighty Reapers, the Seymour Group, Tim Finn, Stephen Cummings, and Wendy Matthews. Lloyd has also performed a number of solo improvisation concerts, something rarely seen on the double bass. In 1991 he formed his own group, The catholics (winners of the 1995 Mo Award for Best Jazz Group). This highly-acclaimed group has released four albums, three of which have been nominated for ARIA Awards. All are produced by Swanton and feature predominantly his compositions. Three are released in the USA, and their second album, Simple, has been released in Germany, where it was recently nominated for the Deutsche Schallplattenkritik award.
Overseas exposure with numerous groups includes several visits each to the Montreux, Montreal and North Sea festivals, and many other performances throughout much of Europe, Asia, Canada, the USA, Mexico, Cuba, New Zealand and Russia.
International artists with whom he has performed throughout Australia include Dewey Redman, Nat Adderley, Clifford Jordan, Vincent Herring, Sting, Jimmy Witherspoon, Margie Evans, Sheila Jordan, Billy Harper, Barney Kessel, Andrew Hill, George Coleman Jr., John Hicks & Carlos Ward, Darrell Grant, and Gary Bartz.
Swanton appears on 60 albums, including several ARIA Award winners, and produced last year’s Award winner, by Bernie McGann. Over 60 of his compositions or co-compositions appear on record. He composed several film soundtracks, including “The Beat Manifesto”, which won the 1995 Australian Guild of Screen Composers Award for Best Short Film Soundtrack, as well as Best Achievement in Music Score at the Exposure International Short Film Festival, and three Australian Film Industry Awards.
Swanton’s two main projects, the world music oriented The catholics, and the minimalist improv experimenters, The Necks, are expressions of his two abiding interests: the music of other cultures and minimalism.
David Theak is a highly respected saxophonist / bandleader on the Australian jazz scene. Theak was the first musician to receive a Master of Music (Jazz performance) from the University of Sydney and as a performer he has led his group theak-tet on tours of Australia and Europe including performances at many of Germany and Scandinavia’s world class jazz venues.
Theak has been featured on dozens of Australian albums including Steve Hunter’s Nine Lives, released nationally through ABC records and theak-tet’s Yellow Glasses (1999) and Gamla Stan (2002, Jazzhead).
In 2001 and 2002, Theak lived in Germany where he performed with German Hammond Organ virtuoso Barbara Dennerlein at festivals and clubs around Europe. He is touring theak-tet around Benelux, Germany and Austria in November 2004, as well as recording a third album at the world famous Rainbow Studios in Oslo, Norway.
Dave runs the Jazzgroove Mothership Orchestra.
The Jazzgroove Mothership Orchestra (JMO) is Australia’s leading jazz orchestra and has gained a reputation as one of the world’s most respected independent Jazz Orchestra’s since its inception in 2003. The JMO has strived to re-define excellence with our position at the zenith of Jazz orchestral composition and improvisation in Australia, through the presentation of two concert seasons per year featuring leading international/domestic artists, sublime guest soloists plus the running of our annual Jazz orchestral composition Competition and the release of world class recordings of original music.
The Jazzgroove Mothership Orchestra was nominated as Australian Jazz Ensemble of the Year 2006, 2007 & 2009. Via commissions and a semi-annual composition competition, the Orchestra has fostered and furthered jazz orchestra writing in Australia, recording and premiering works by Australians such as vocalist-songwriter Kristin Berardi, and composers Steve Newcomb, Sean Wayland, David Panichi, Mace Francis, Ross Irwin, Andy Fiddes and more. In recent years, with the assistance of the Australia Council and the support of Australia’s major jazz festivals, the Orchestra has collaborated with international artists Maria Schneider (USA), Darcy James Argue (USA), Chris Potter (USA), Jim McNeely (USA), Dave Lisik (USA/NZ), Bob Sheppard & Alex Sipiagin (USA), Bert Joris (BE), Charles Tolliver (USA) and John Hollenbeck & Theo Bleckmann (USA).
Musically this ensemble represents many of the finest young improvisers Australia has to offer, and features original music from Australia’s most dynamic and creative large ensemble composers all packaged into one exciting super-ensemble. The Mothership’s members have dominated Australia’s top prizes over the last decade including 10 x National Jazz Award Finalists (including 3 winners), 4 x Freedman Fellows (including 2 winners), 2 x Australian Jazz Artist’s of the Year (Bell awards), James Morrison Scholarship Winners, a finalist in the International Thelonius Monk Trumpet Competition plus a finalist at the Hoolieart International Jazz Competition (Belgium).
The music of the mothership can best be defined as exciting, dynamic and highly original with most of its youthful members (average age 29) being drawn from one of the world’s most innovative musician’s collective’s, Sydney’s Jazzgroove Association. The Orchestra has released four critically acclaimed CD’s ‘The Mothership plays the music of Mike Nock’ (2006) ‘Dream Wheel’ (2007) The Mothership meets Kristin Berardi (2010) and Walkabout (2012) featuring Bob Sheppard and Alex Sipiagin.
James ( Pug ) Waples, born December 13th 1982, is the youngest member of the Waples brothers, a family of musicians well known to Sydney fans. A finalist at the 1994 Wangaratta drumming competition James began his musical studies as a classical pianist before taking up the drums 10 years ago. Since graduating from the Jazz Studies course at the Sydney Conservatorium in 1994 his impeccable sense of time and extraordinary musical sensitivity have made him a favourite with many top Australian musicians such as Bernie McGann and Vince Jones.