Catalogue Number: FRS149
Label: Freestyle Records
Release Date: *29th September 2023
Format: *LP /CD / Digital
Menagerie is the Melbourne-based Jazz ensemble founded by producer, songwriter, guitarist, DJ and recording artist Lance Ferguson, also the driving force behind The Bamboos, Lanu, Rare Groove Spectrum and Machines Always Win.
2 years on from their last full-length Many Worlds, Menagerie are back with The Shores Of Infinity, further expanding their sound out into the music universe, a forward-looking, rhythm-heavy expression of contemporary Jazz that is steeped in the tradition but somehow also defies genre pigeonholing. The title track sees California-based spoken word alchemist Thee Cosmic Poet dropping wisdom over the undulating, hypnotic drums of Felix Bloxsom, before the whole track builds into an epic climax with the incendiary, apocalyptic tenor saxophone work of Phil Noy. Lead single “Kingdom” builds a groove with sinewy bass, phased-out Fender Rhodes and angular horn lines. The second section opens into a syncopated vehicle for the masterful Trumpet of Ross Irwin. Here is contemporary live Jazz-Funk influenced in equal parts by the music of West London’s Broken Beat movement as well as Roy Ayers and Donald Byrd.
Later, the soaring & uplifting vibe of “Earthrise” evokesa feeling of joyous reflection. Modal Jazz expertly performed by virtuoso pianist Mark Fitzgibbon, whose pedigree includes performing with the likes of Lee Konitz and Mark Murphy, as well as being part of the house band at Gilles Peterson and Patrick Forge’s legendary Dingwalls Jazz-Dance sessions.
“Arrival” is a sprawling, 9-minute long foray into the Afro-Jazz realm, based on an ostinato Piano/Bass line whose momentum pushes bandleader Lance Ferguson into an extended guitar solo that builds and builds.
The cyclic chord progression of “Of” swirls and spins to create a haunting musical maelstrom. The main melody is stated by the horn section and then repeated by the haunting vocal choir. Mark Fitzgibbon delivers a heavy solo on the Fender Rhodes before Phil Noy returns with a devastating Soprano solo.
Album closer “Danieda’s Dance” pairs the full 9-piece Menagerie lineup back to a classic quartet format for an extended excursion in 3/4 Jazz modality. Once again saxophonist Phil Noy turns the intensity level into the red with a searing tenor solo that steadfastly peaks, all the while fuelled by the fiery drum work of Felix Bloxsom.