Dr Mace Francis is establishing himself as predominant figure and advocate for original Australian big band music. He moved to Perth, from Victoria, in 2000 to study jazz composition and arranging under Graham Lyall and in 2004 graduated from WAAPA with First Class Honours. In 2015 Mace completed a PhD exploring site-specific composition of which he received the 2015 Faculty Research Medal.
Since 2004, Mace’s focus on composition has awarded him the 2004 APRA Professional Development Award, the international Italian composition prize “Scrivere in Jazz”, three nominations for the WAMi Jazz Song of the Year, was a finalist in the 2010 Freedman Jazz Fellowship, finalist for an Australian Bell Award in 2013 and 2016, and was the 2015 winner of the APRA Jazz Work of the Year.
MFO have recorded 6 CDs since forming in 2005, toured nationally four times (2006, 2008, 2010 & 2011), performed with international artists Jim Pugh (USA), Jon Gordon (NY), John Hollenbeck (NY), Satoko Fujii (JAP), Theo Bleckmann (NY) and Ed Partyka (Austria). In 2007 Mace was awarded the prestigious “Most Out-Standing Individual Contribution to Jazz in WA” by the Perth Jazz Society.
In 2008 Mace was appointed lecturer in Arranging and Composition at WAAPA as well as Artistic Director of the WA Youth Jazz Orchestra (WAYJO) where he has implemented emerging composer commissions and guest artist programs. Since his appointment, WAYJO has performed with Fred Wesley (USA), Darcy James Argue (USA), Allen Vizzutti (USA), Kristin Berardi (NSW), David Theak (NSW), Franck Tortillier (France), Jim McNeely (USA), Ed Partyka (Austria), Sarah McKenzie (VIC), Mike Stewart (SA), Michelle Nichole (VIC), Mat Jodrell (NY) and Ross Irwin (VIC).
In 2013 Mace worked as guest composer and conductor with l’Orcehstre des Jeunes Jazzmen de Bourgogne (France), the Graz Composers Ensemble (Austria), the Showa University of Music Big Band (Japan) and performed at the Wangarrata Festival of Jazz, New York and Tokyo with his nonet.