Big Brook­meyer cel­e­bra­tion

Western Suburbs Weekly - - Music - Tanya MacNaughton

WA Youth Jazz Orches­tra artis­tic direc­tor Mace Fran­cis had a big band rev­e­la­tion the first time he heard Amer­i­can com­poser Bob Brook­meyer’s com­po­si­tion, Re­mem­ber­ing.

“My house­mate at the time played it for me and it to­tally changed my mu­si­cal life,” Fran­cis said.

“Be­fore hear­ing that piece of mu­sic I thought big band, like many peo­ple do, was old mu­sic, but Brook­meyer’s mu­sic was a blend be­tween beau­ti­ful melodies with orches­tral sounds and then also had that guts of a big band sound.”

As fate would have it, Fran­cis had the op­por­tu­nity to meet one of Brook­meyer’s band mem­bers in Perth in 2004 and, be­fore he knew it, was on a plane to Europe to tour with his idol for a few weeks.

“I was so ex­cited and like a kid in a candy store,” Fran­cis said.

“I didn’t play with him, I was like his roadie, so I would carry his trom­bone and make sure his mu­sic was all ready for the re­hearsals or con­certs.

“It was great be­cause he was able to lis­ten to my mu­sic and give me in­cred­i­ble feed­back.

“The few times I sat down with him, I learnt more in those few hours than I have through uni­ver­sity de­grees and life ex­pe­ri­ence.”

Brook­meyer died in 2011, but Fran­cis is con­tin­u­ing his le­gacy by pay­ing trib­ute with WAYJO Com­posers’ En­sem­ble’s first per­for­mance of the year, Bob Brook­meyer: A Mod­ern Mas­ter, at As­tor Lounge.

“It’s a beau­ti­ful in­ti­mate set­ting and we’re tak­ing a span of Brook­meyer’s en­tire ca­reer,” Fran­cis said.

“So we’ve got one piece from the mid-’50s, which is a clas­sic swing­ing big band piece, then some beau­ti­ful bal­lads with lush or­ches­tra­tions through to slightly odd, avant-garde mu­sic and also his unique in­ter­pre­ta­tions of clas­sic jazz stan­dards off the last al­bum he recorded just be­fore he died.

“Be­cause he was at the cut­ting edge of big band com­pos­ing from the ’50s, he sort of drove the lin­eage of it, so the night will be a jour­ney through time through the eyes and ears of Bob Brook­meyer.”

Pic­ture: Mar­cus Whisson­mu­ni­ d434923

Mace Fran­cis flanked by sax­o­phon­ists Alana Macpher­son and Max Koenig.

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