Yup & Other Words of Affirmation
'Unquestionably world class'-David Jobling, The Independent Weekly, 2007 'Beautiful music'-Lucky Oceans, The Planet, ABC Radio National, 2007 'a superlative performance'-Gary Cockburn, Ripitup, 2007 'pumping like a steam locomotive' John McBeath, The Advertiser, 2008 Marmalade Circus' first ever full-length studio album 'YUP and other words of affirmation' beautifully represents the Marmalade Circus vibe: the energy, the excitement, the fun and the great playing. Marmalade Circus is a modern mini big band featuring ten of the best creative jazz musicians in Adelaide, South Australia but it is also composer/arranger/pianist's Mark Simeon Ferguson's showcase for his quirky, but accessible writing. From many years working in Latino and Gospel groups, and from countless hours of private research Ferguson has developed a rhythmic style of writing full of buoyant grooves from?Africa, the Caribbean and the Middle East. Marmalade Circus was formed in 1997 as The Mark Ferguson Quintet for a concert for Jazz Co-ordination SA and initially featured Scott Griffiths (alto saxophone), Nick Mulder (trombone), Tim Bowen (bass) and John McDermott (drums). The band was then invited to perform at the Adelaide Festival 1998, as part of the Emerging Artists program (with Mike Stewart on saxes). Later in 1998, while Ferguson was studying for his Masters degree he began composing for larger ensembles. With expatriate US saxophonist Dusty Cox on side he enlarged his group, renamed it 'Marmalade Circus' and they played their first gig at the 1998 Glenelg Jazz Festival. Shortly afterwards energetic percussionist Steve Todd joined the band bringing a much stronger latin emphasis to the ensemble, creating a septet. In 1999 Marmalade Circus broadcast live on ABCFM's Jazz Track. In 2001 they recorded their first independent CD 'Tropical Fruit Chunks' which received very favourable reviews. In 2001 they were invited to perform their first interstate gigs at the Thredbo and Manly Jazz Festivals by the late jazz promoter John Speight. Following the success of these performances the band were invited to play at the prestigious 'Jazz in the Domain' concert in the Sydney Festival 2002 (supporting Maria Schneider) to an audience of 80 000. This was shortly followed by a great performance at the Adelaide Fringe, where their show 'Live and Sticky' received a 4-star review. Between 2002 and 2004 Marmalade Circus only played a handful of gigs as Ferguson dealt with family issues and toured with other bands. In early 2005 at the encouragement of promoter Con Virlas, Ferguson expanded the group to it's current ten-piece size performing their first gig at the East End Jazz Festival. The enlarged band brought a fabulous collection of talent onstage together: Dusty Cox on alto, Chris Soole on tenor, Vashti Tyrell on baritone and young Pat Thiele on trumpet, alongside the regular crew and helped to broaden Ferguson's writing palette significantly. The new Marmalade Circus were touted as the highlight of the Festival. In late 2005 Marmalade Circus released an EP '...and then there were ten' to great acclaim from the local jazz community. Since then Marmalade Circus have performed semi-regularly to packed houses for COMA, JazzSA and in the Adelaide Fringe. In 2009 they launched their new CD 'YUP and other words of affirmation'. In recent years the 'Circus' part of Marmalade Circus has developed in songs such as 'Tiny Instruments', 'Tom Tommy Tom' and 'Rambutan' with novelty instruments, band vocals, a little dancing and, to be perfectly frank, more general silliness. But in contrast deeper themes have also been explored with great passion and poignancy in such tunes as the Arabic inspired 'Salaam'. That line 'Jazz meets World via New Orleans...and Sesame Street', what is that about? Mark answers your questions. Why jazz? Well it gives so much freedom and spontaneity-there is always a chance that the music can go anywhere. Why world? This is 2010 and we live in Australia, a diverse multi-cultural society so why wouldn't we want to use all the sounds we can from all over the world? Why New Orleans? Well it was the cradle of jazz, a melting pot of all kinds of music from Europe, the Caribbean and Africa and so many great jazz, soul and funk musicians and bands have come from there. Why Sesame Street? Why does jazz have to be so serious? We love having fun and goofing around with a few silly songs and a handful of whacky instruments. And yes I spent a few years touring with Peter Combe and Shireen and I play about 50 concerts a year in Primary Schools across Australia with our group Marmalade Jam so that has got to rub off at some point. And Sesame Street does fun with such a sense of class, who wouldn't want to get some of that vibe?