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).
Now based in Perth, Western Australia, Jamie was the winner of the 2003 White Foundation World Saxophone Competition, was named Australian Jazz Musician of the Year at the 2007 Bell Awards, as well as winning the Best Jazz Release category and is now coordinator of Jazz Studies at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts.
He has performed with leading international jazz artists in the United States, Asia, India, UK, Europe, New Zealand and throughout Australia and frequently performs at jazz clubs and festivals throughout the world.
JVC Jazz Festival (New York), BBC London Jazz Festival, Jazz Yatra Festival (India), Montreux Jazz Festival (Switzerland), Edinburgh Jazz Festival (Scotland), Galway Jazz festival, Bray Jazz Festival (Ireland), Manila Jazz festival (Philipines), Villa Celimontana (Italy), Jazz Alive Festival (New Zealand).
Wangaratta Jazz Festival, Melbourne International Jazz Festival, Fremantle Jazz Festival, Manly Jazz Festival, Stonnington Jazz Festival, Darwin Fringe Festival, Apollo Bay Music Festival, Sydney Festival, Festival of Perth, Glenelg Jazz Festival, Melbourne Jazz Fringe Festival, Half Bent Music Festival, Darling Harbour Jazz Festival, Adelaide Festival and many more
As a leader
As a sideman
Jamie has performed in the United States, Asia, India, UK, Europe, New Zealand and throughout Australia with leading international jazz artists like Charlie Haden, Geri Allen, Robert Hurst, Eric Harland, Reuben Rogers, George Garzone, Cindy Blackman, Ronnie Scott, John and Jeff Clayton, Curtis Lundy, Paul Grabowsky, Dale Barlow, Bernie McGann, Barney Mcall, Scott Tinkler, Joe Chindamo and James Morrison, and with groups like the Australian Art Orchestra, Sam Keevers Octet, Paul Grabowsky Quartet/Qunitet and Sextet, Blowfish and the Paul Williamson Sextet.
His overseas performances have included the Houston International Jazz Festival, the IAJE festival in New York, Villa Celimontana in Italy, Dubai, UAE where he played with the Dubai Philharmonic Orchestra, and club dates in New Zealand. Tom has two jazz trio records to his name, released through the Sydney based Jazzgroove Records label. His latest album We Happy Few won the 2009 Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) Limelight Magazine award for best jazz achievement.
Tom regularly tours Australia with his original jazz trio comprised of Peter Jeavons (double bass) and Daniel Susnjar (drums). Together they have played large venues like the Sydney Opera House and The Promethean Theatre (Adelaide), and also the best jazz clubs in the country – including 505 and The Basement (Sydney), Bennett’s Lane and Paris Cat (Melbourne), and The Ellington Jazz Club (Perth).
At the end of 2011 he performed a two piano duo concert with Graham Wood – complete with two Fazioli grand pianos – at the stunning Government House, Perth. He was also commissioned to compose for the event. The resulting piece was Dissolve, for two pianos, and further explores his ideas of interruption and chromatic saturation, synthesised with jazz interaction and improvisation.
He is part of the exciting new Perth group Memory of Elements, and contributes compositions alongside Jamie Oehlers (saxophone), Carl Mackey (saxophone), Simon Jeans (guitar), Pete Jeavons (bass) and Ben Vanderwal (drums). They performed at the 2011 Wangaratta Jazz Festival, completed a national tour, and have released a self titled album on the Jazzhead label. When living in Sydney, Tom formed the new band Soundgun, comprised of Jonathan Zwartz (double-bass) and Evan Mannell (drums). They also debuted the group at the Wangaratta Jazz Festival in 2008, and have recorded for ABC Jazz Radio.
Tom has also been playing in an unusaul trio with Lucky Oceans (pedal- steel guitar) and Ben Vanderwal (drums) where he plays acoustic instruments and analouge synthesizers. A recording is to be released shortly.
He plays a myriad of styles, and recently arranged all the music for the concert series JONI – a Joni Mitchell tribute that was staged at the Sydney Opera House, Melbourne and Brisbane, starring Katie Noonan and Wendy Matthews. He has also worked with other industry names such as Pete Murray (Sony), James Morrison, singers Tina Harrod, Ilan Kidron (Potbellez, Universal), Max Sharam, Geoff Duff, Josh Quong-Tart (Home and Away, All Saints), Hugo Race (Bad Seeds), David Campbell, Deni Hines (Sony BMG), Mark Sholtez (Verve label), Rick Robertson (DIG), and other jazz musicians of the caliber of James Muller, Simon Barker, Kristen Berardi, trumpeter Phil Slater, bassist Cameron Undy and 20th Century Dog, Dan Barnett’s Big Band – and has performed at other Australian jazz festivals including the Melbourne Jazz Festival, Newcastle, York (WA), Manly and Coolah Jazz Festivals.
Tom O’Halloran leads the Jazz Piano department at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA) at Edith Cowan University, and also lectures in jazz composition and improvisation. He is a regularly commissioned composer, and currently holds a Master of Music in classical composition from the Sydney Conservatorium of Music and a Bachelor of Music (Jazz Performance) from WAAPA.