LIVE MAYHEM is more than a document of the toughness and smart writing of James Ryan’s Sonic Mayhem Orchestra. Like all truly worthwhile live albums it stands on its own as a valid document of this unique ensemble.
In his writing, Lohning allows plenty of room for the soloists to have their say with their own voice and – often playing understated piano – would at times rise from his place at the keys and direct the band with enthusiasm. His arrangements had the audiences tapping their feet and applauding. A general feeling of happiness and well-being filling the room, particularly after Lohning’s composition in the style of Count Basie, ‘Stand Up and Be Counted’, which concluded the first set.
Sydney tenor giant James Ryan – as well as being a startling instrumentalist – is a truly gifted and, in a world where the word has been buffed clean of all its edge, a truly creative composer and arranger. He recently arranged a selection of Ray Charles tunes for his powerhouse big band, The Sonic Mayhem Orchestra, a collection of Sydney’s best and brightest and that rare bird: a large ensemble bristling with astonishing soloists that play as an ensemble, as one.
‘One thing we always try to explore is the full dynamic range of the orchestra. Lots of people of surprised at how quiet (and loud) a big band can play, but it is going to be exciting either way. The band is dying to play with Chris.’