The 17-piece Jazzgroove Mothership Orchestra (JMO) performed two, luscious sets (13 November) of inspiring, instrumental music predominately composed by master Australian guitarist James Muller, with additional works by renowned Sydney trombonist David Panichi, Belgium Bert Joris and German Florian Ross.
Not unlike a painter with his palette of rich and diverse colours, the JMO tantalised the ears of patrons with shade, light and splashes of controlled dynamics executed by an exceptional cast of multi-talented Aussie musicians.
The concert presented a majority of Muller’s works commissioned by the Sydney Conservatorium and orchestrated by pianist, composer and arranger Florian Ross.
The band opened with Joris’ composition 'Mr Dodo' featuring the crisp sound and beautifully crafted solo lines of tenor saxophonist Kim Lawson and the pristine, fluid trumpeter Simon Ferenci stretching out with drummer Oli Nelson. The arrangement built slowly into a crescendo as the trumpet section raised the roof with precise, high notes building tension to climax with a potent key shift.
Muller’s 'Scratch' and magically crafted 'Green Eyes' followed presenting the inimitable guitarists seamless and exquisite solos executed to perfection. Florian Ross’ composition 'Okay' featured band director David Theak on a polished, soprano sax solo and pianist Hugh Barrett. The incorporation of Flugel horns and muted trombones provided a sensual texture and mix of sound colours.
'Pyl Driver', composed by Davd Panichi, completed the first first set showcasing Dave’s compositional skills and thorough knowledge of the big band idiom. The band was fuelled by the formidable talent of drummer Oli Nelson.
The rhythmically pulsating Ross composition 'Mean MF' opened the second set featuring magically angular duet interplay with pianist Hugh Barrett and drummer Nelson plus a solid solo by trumpeter Andy Fiddes.
Tenor saxophonist Matt Keegan strode his exclusive solo approach on 'Chick Corea' pursuing strong, contained, trilling lines followed by a breathtaking duel of ideas between Muller and Nelson.
Muller’s stunning composition 'Eindhoven' featured the hardworking bassist of the engine room Tom Botting, then 'Kaboom' presented a magnificently orchestrated trombone section and a thoughtfully crafted solo by Theak on soprano sax.
'Trouble And Woe' completed the evening’s repertoire with Baritone sax man Steve Fitzmaurice delivering a robust solo and the inventive Muller soaring at light speed. A stunning night of big band music performed with taste and expertise.
If you missed out make sure you catch this this great band on their return.