Review :: Ross McHenry Future Ensemble at Sydney Festival
January 12th 2015
Friday 9 January // The Aurora Spiegeltent
Walking into Hyde Park on a balmy Friday night, it is unmistakably that wonderful Sydney Festival time of year.
Despite the earlier rain, crowds spilled into the magical Festival Village and made their way into The Aurora for the Ross McHenry Future Ensemble performance.
The ensemble features a stellar line up of artists including Ross McHenry on bass, Adam De Clive-Lowe on keyboard, Myele Manzanza on drums, Adam Page on saxophone, multi-instrumentalist Jon Hunt and Dylan Marshal on guitar. Fans will know composer and producer McHenry as lead of the Afro-jazz collective Shaolin Afronauts. However with Future Ensemble, McHenry takes a clear departure and fuses together afro-beat with jazz and hip hop, topped off with smooth soul.
Playing tracks from McHenry’s album Distant Oceans, the evening begins with the upbeat ‘Lights Across The Sky’ and switches into the energy charged ‘Intercosmos’. The ensemble moves smoothly from track to track with an intimate crowd swaying appreciatively to each song. By the time McHenry leads a back to back luxurious performance of ‘Stanley Dreams’ and ‘Distant Oceans’ Part 1 and 2, the audience is in a musical trance. The band are clearly at ease with each other and McHenry oozes a quiet confidence as he chats with the audience.
Manzanza’s performance was an absolute standout – the crowd waited with bated breath as he rampaged through energetic drum solos, which were met with roars of applause.
By the time the ensemble closed of the night with the eclectic ‘Still Life Moving Fast’, the audience is on a high and there is a slight rush to swoop up the limited vinyl being sold outside. McHenry lingers on to have a quiet chat with appreciative fans before they disappear into the twinkling lights of the Village.
A perfect start to the Sydney Festival season!