“Accordion, cello and guitar are instruments that all play a melody, so we often switch up who backs who. It’s very transformable. We don’t feel like there are any limitations. Except that as people, we love to play music outside but actually can’t stand the rain or the sun (laughs). That’s about the limits of our art, the weather.”
“Our string section is much more than just a lush carpet of sound. They interact and improvise with the rhythm section and combine melodic structures with our vocalist and saxophonist.”
“My singing has helped me to create more lyrical stories when I’m playing the piano. Instrumentalists cancertainly get comfortable running changes, and singing has really taught me to slow down and be more aware of melody.”
We play big, honking sets and we wanted to recreate that as much as possible in the studio.
“I’ve been an activist in my music for a long time and I’ve been writing about police brutality for a long time, but oddly enough, I have never went near Strange Fruit,” says Vivian Sessoms.
I just keep doing things I love and playing with musicians I love and my voice shapes itself; if you are an artist, it is part of who you are, I think you are always aware of it.
“If we didn’t sound and swing like The Count Basie Orchestra has since 1935 and continues to do to this very day in 2018, then I would feel the term ‘ghost band’ would be warranted, but this orchestra has not lost one beat since Basie passed in 1984. In many respects, it may even be stronger.”
“I grew up thinking of jazz as dance music, just like the music you hear on the radio,” says Donald Harrison Jr. “This element was never taught in school or discussed by any of my music peers so that alone made me realize I had a different thought process then even the cats from New Orleans like the Marsalis brothers and my partner at the time, Terence Blanchard. They are all great players, but including a dance feeling did not seem to be high on their priority list in the early ’80s.”
The duality of the MFG’s European and Australian identities is also manifested in their playing, with Maas and Goralski weaving a delicate and intricate harmonic net around Gemma Farrell’s direct, robust melodic lines.
“It’s been an interesting experience as a band, because we’ve been able to interact directly with the dancers and that’s been fantastic. They are part of the band. The most interesting thing for me is the interaction between the front line players and the dancers. Musicians are starting to solo differently and think about their solos, anticipating what the dancers will do; and you can see the dancers anticipating the instrumentalists as well. It’s an interesting process, I think we’re at the beginning of something.”