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Album release: 'The Outsiders' by The Ross McHenry Trio
Release date: 10 November 2017
Label: First World Records
More info: Band website

‘The Outsiders’ is the new album from “absurdly prolific” (Scenstr Magazine) multi-award winning composer, producer and bass player Ross McHenry. Known for his work as bandleader of The Shaolin Afronauts, Ross has collaborated with the likes of Robert Glasper Trio, Fred Wesley, Roy Ayers, Eddie Bo, Marva Whitney, Marcus Strickland Mark de Clive Lowe, Myele Manzanza, Corey King, Duane Eubanks and Tivon Pennicott., and been heralded as “The Future of Australian Jazz” (PBS FM). 

This is his third album release for us at First Word (following ‘Child of Somebody’ in 2016 and ‘Distant Oceans’ in 2013), but his first trio album. Joining McHenry on this new venture are long time collaborators, NZ drumming powerhouse and First Word label mate Myele Manzanza and NY based multi-award winning Australian pianist Matthew Sheens. ‘The Outsiders’ is dynamic trio jazz from the perspective of three forward thinking musicians who although steeped in the jazz tradition are not bound by jazz influences alone. 

The album’s concept is centered around the sense of belonging in the modern era; the way we view the world in the age of globalisation. Particularly the unique identity of Antipodeans in the world of jazz music; rather than replicate American and British sounds, these compositions are derived from an exploration of geographical identity, embracing the uniqueness of their own cultural sonic qualities. 

In Ross’ words, “we are connected to and understand the international history of jazz music, but we are outsiders. We belong in the grand and important lineage of artists, but our perspective is unique, because of where we are from, and as people from small, isolated cities and countries, we are outsiders. Even within the context of our own countries, we do not live or come from the most populous capitals of culture, we are outsiders. This is something we can rebel against, or it is something we can choose to own. I choose to own it, this group chooses to own it, but, most importantly, I feel it in the music.” 

These compositions are the result of this ethos and mindset, created with exceptional grace, and showcasing the exquisitely talented trio of Ross, Myele and Matthew. A six-track vinyl album (with two additional tracks on the digital release), this also includes extensive sleeve-notes written by Ross himself. 

Multi-award-winning composer, producer and bass player, Ross McHenry delivers his newest body of work, The Outsiders; a carefully considered jazz journey set for release on November 10. 

Initially conceived in New York City mid-2015 and recorded across two years, The Outsiders is an eight-track exposé delving into Australia’s rich sense of borrowed cultural heritage, political misgivings, and innate persona.  Examining identity in our time of unprecedented connectivity, The Outsiders explores what it means to belong in the modern world.

Accompanied on The Outsiders by esteemed New Zealand drummer Myele Manzanza, and the Adelaide born, US based pianist and composer Matthew Sheens, the trio initially set the project in motion when they were fortuitously together as part of WOMADelaide 2015; where they descended upon Adelaide’s Chapel Lane Studios without pre-conceived limitations or a prerequisite to what was to be musically explored. What evolved was The Outsiders, a new sense of freedom and discovery for McHenry

“It was instantly fulfilling and I loved rediscovering the freedom of the trio format; it wasn’t a format I’d played in for years but I knew immediately that I needed to pursue it further.” Said McHenry

“This album is the first album where I have actively written with a sense of cultural identity in mind. I didn’t intend to create this trio with people who inherently understand the themes I was trying to achieve with this project, in fact the group came together almost by chance. Luckily for me it turned out that when we all got in a room together to record music, I found that Sheens and Manzanza understood and felt acutely what I was talking about.”

Recently awarded the Marten Bequest Scholarship, 2017 Art Music Awards finalist and shortlisted for the 2017 Freedman Jazz Award; Ross McHenry has become synonymous with the international creative improvised music movement. As a musician and composer McHenry has been leader for the genres Australian movement, as he develops its discourse, its history and its future.  

Known for his work in Australia as the leader of afro-jazz ensemble Shaolin Afronauts and as a solo artist Ross has performed extensively around Australia and travelled the world collaborating with many artists including Robert Glasper Trio, Fred Wesley, Roy Ayers, Eddie Bo, Marva Whitney, Marcus Strickland Mark de Clive Lowe, Myele Manzanza, Corey King, Duane Eubanks and Tivon Pennicott.

McHenry has performed at many of the world’s leading arts festivals including Glastonbury, The Sydney Festival, The Adelaide Festival, Womadelaide, Falls Festival, Wellington International Jazz Festival and the Melbourne International Jazz Festival.

More information

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