Menagerie: The Shores Of Infinity

Melbourne-based nonet's 'spiritual jazz' combines Latin and funk-fuelled modal grooves with poetry and hard-bop soloing


Australian spiritual jazz is a new genre for me. Menagerie – a nine-piece band based in Melbourne, have certainly produced an engaging album with The Shores Of infinity. Spiritual jazz, as interpreted on this album, seems to combine a funky, 70s-influenced beat with hints of disco and some of the spiritual sentiments that shaped some of Donna Summer’s work, especially on her single State Of Independence.

The album kicks off with a contribution from Thee Cosmic Poet – described in the release notes as a California-based spoken-word alchemist – dispensing various words of wisdom, over which Felix Bloxsom provides some hypnotic drum patterns. Easing into the album, the length of the tracks (none of which are under five minutes) allows the band to develop their ideas in some depth. It’s undeniably funky, well-crafted and well-performed music.

In addition to the 70s vibe, there are some seriously good jazz performances going on, with Ross Irwin shining on trumpet solos and Phil Noy offering an almost Coltrane-like, spiritual performance on the album’s powerful closer Danieda’s Dance. A boiling, hard-edged jazz finish, with blistering drumming once again provided by Bloxsom, concludes an album that successfully combines a range of styles.

With first-class performances from all concerned, The Shores Of Infinity impresses from start to finish with its high energy and sheer exuberance.

The Shores Of Infinity; Kingdom; Earthrise; Arrival; Of; Danieda’s Dance (43.10)
Lance Ferguson (g,v,kyb,pc); Phil Noy (ts,ss); Ross Irwin (t); Phil Binotto (pc); Ben Hanlon (b,elb); Mark Fitzgibbon (p, fender rhodes); Felix Bloxsom (d); Kate Ferguson, Rita Satch, Christin Deralas (v); Thee Cosmic Poet (spoken word). Melbourne, no date given.
Freestyle Records FRS149