So who is this menagerie that Lance has assembled here, these angels and demons at play? Well first, this was not conceived of as a ‘Bamboos side-project’. Musically and sonically, philosophically, and in personnel, this is the articulation of other sounds. Jazz, yes, but it is also not ‘The Lance Ferguson Octet’ or some other vehicle for soloists to show off their individual chops. Where these pathways meet, the whole is indeed more than the sum of the parts. Lance sets the example of selflessness, soloing just once and sitting out completely on all but two tunes. Other than Fallon Williams’ performance on The Quietening, most of the vocals are part of the ensemble rather than out front.
However special mention must be made of Phillip Noy and Mark Fitzgibbon, two of the musicians featured heavily on “They Shall Inherit”. Phil is one of Melbourne’s top saxophone technicians and for this album reconfigured his horns to match Coltrane’s settings. Just don’t expect to be able to play anything like Phil if he repairs your sax. Mark Fitzgibbon’s background includes time soaking up London’s jazz dance scene in the late 80s, playing keys at the legendary Dingwalls sessions hosted by Gilles Peterson and Patrick Forge.
This View Street jazz experience was recorded with the assistance of Lance’s long-time engineer, John Castle. In recording and mixing the album, they have inherited the sound of some of the classic music of Harry Whitaker, Gary Bartz, McCoy Tyner, Weldon Irvine and the labels Tribe, Strata East and Black Jazz. Not forgetting special guest Roy Ayers, who should be credited for his vibes and vibrations. But this project is not simply a 1975 time capsule, with songs like The Chosen sounding like a live jazz take on some of the club music experiments of the 21st century producers inspired by Ayers, Mizell and the like. Back to the future.
It’s time to open the door to the cosmos and let Menagerie’s sweet songs take you sky high.