About The Orchestra

The Jazzgroove Mothership Orchestra (JMO) is Australia’s leading jazz orchestra and has gained a reputation as one of the world’s most respected independent Jazz Orchestra’s since its inception in 2003. The JMO has strived to re-define excellence with our position at the zenith of Jazz orchestral composition and improvisation in Australia, through the presentation of two concert seasons per year featuring leading international/domestic artists, sublime guest soloists plus the running of our annual Jazz orchestral composition Competition and the release of world class recordings of original music.

The Jazzgroove Mothership Orchestra was nominated as Australian Jazz Ensemble of the Year 2006, 2007 & 2009. Via commissions and a semi-annual composition competition, the Orchestra has fostered and furthered jazz orchestra writing in Australia, recording and premiering works by Australians such as vocalist-songwriter Kristin Berardi, and composers Steve Newcomb, Sean Wayland, David Panichi, Mace Francis, Ross Irwin, Andy Fiddes and more. In recent years, with the assistance of the Australia Council and the support of Australia’s major jazz festivals, the Orchestra has collaborated with international artists Maria Schneider (USA), Darcy James Argue (USA), Chris Potter (USA), Jim McNeely (USA), Dave Lisik (USA/NZ), Bob Sheppard & Alex Sipiagin (USA), Bert Joris (BE), Charles Tolliver (USA) and John Hollenbeck & Theo Bleckmann (USA). 

Musically this ensemble represents many of the finest young improvisers Australia has to offer, and features original music from Australia’s most dynamic and creative large ensemble composers all packaged into one exciting super-ensemble. The Mothership’s members have dominated Australia’s top prizes over the last decade including 10 x National Jazz Award Finalists (including 3 winners), 4 x Freedman Fellows (including 2 winners), 2 x Australian Jazz Artist’s of the Year (Bell awards), James Morrison Scholarship Winners, a finalist in the International Thelonius Monk Trumpet Competition plus a finalist at the Hoolieart International Jazz Competition (Belgium).

The music of the mothership can best be defined as exciting, dynamic and highly original with most of its youthful members (average age 29) being drawn from one of the world’s most innovative musician’s collective’s, Sydney’s Jazzgroove Association. The Orchestra has released four critically acclaimed CD’s ‘The Mothership plays the music of Mike Nock’ (2006) ‘Dream Wheel’ (2007) The Mothership meets Kristin Berardi (2010) and Walkabout (2012) featuring Bob Sheppard and Alex Sipiagin.




The orchestra embarks on its biggest performance year to date opening with a performance at Angel Place as part of the Sydney Festival with a sensational double header concert featuring Jef Neve and Maria Schneider. In June the performed grammy nominated program "Identities are Changeable" with The Miguel Zenon Quartet in Sydney and at the Melbourne International Jazz Festival. In September we presented our 2nd annual Australian composers night featuring jazz legend Dave Panichi and recorded our 5th CD release, Fiddes vs Tinkler at Sydney's studio 301. In November we embarked on our an East Coast tour with Australian guitar virtuoso James Muller featuring a brand new program of jazz orchestra and guitar orchestrated and arranged by German composer Florian Ross. 


saw the orchestra commissioning then developing a brand new work for jazz orchestra featuring Scott Tinkler and the JMO. We attempted a live recording at Foundry 616 to the largest ever crowd at this iconic Sydney Venue. 


The orchestra begins its anniversary year with a performance at the Jazzgroove Festival, featuring NZ saxophonist, Roger Manins, performing the music of the late Bob Brookmeyer.  During the 10th anniversary tour,  the orchestra presents concerts in Melbourne, Adelaide, Sydney, Brisbane, Cairns, Hobart, Wollongong, Newcastle and for the first time New Zealand. Highlights include performances at the Melbourne International Jazz Festival with Maria Schneider and Darcy James Argue. 


The orchestra is awarded Best Australian Vocal CD at the Australian Jazz Awards (the Bells) for its release “Kristin Berardi meets the Jazzgroove Mothership Orchestra”. 2012 included a mini-tour with with US tenor giant, Chris Potter which included an ABC Classic FM recording of our Melbourne International Jazz Festival concert at the historic Forum and a sell-out concert at Sydney’s, Blue Beat jazz club. 



The orchestra releases CD “Kristin Berardi meets the Jazzgroove Mothership Orchestra’ (Jazzhead) and undertook a National concert tour with Kristin featuring concerts in new territories, Hobart and Cairns. The composition comnpetition final was held at Melbourne’s Stonnington Festival with the APRA prize being awarded to young QLD composer Joseph O’Connor. In August, the orchestra commissioned Canadian composer Dave Lisik to compose a ten part suite based on James Vance Marshall’s ‘the Children’ featuring US saxophonist Bob Sheppard, and trumpeter Alex Sipiagin. The orchestra recorded the work for release on NZ label Rattle jazz in 2012. October saw the orchestra collaborating with Jim McNeely at one of the opening concerts at the Chatswood Concourse in Sydney. 


2010 included performances with John Hollenbeck and Theo Bleckmann at the Melbourne International Jazz Festival and a CD recording with Award Winning Australian Vocalist, Kristin Berardi featuring her compositions arranged for the orchestra by some of Australia’s leading creative composers. 2010 also included performances at the inaugural Jazzgroove Summer Festival, Stonnington Jazz Festival, the Manly International Jazz Festival and an outdoor concert at the Historic Vaucluse House, Jazz in the Gardens. 



2009 started with a week long residency at Riversdale, Arthur Boyd’s Education Centre in preparation for an 11 concert, six state tour with Belgian trumpeter and composer, Bert Joris. This tour included some of the JMO’s finest ever performances. 2009 also saw the orchestra collaborating with US jazz legend, Charles Tolliver with concerts at the Wangaratta Festival of jazz, the Brisbane Jazz festival and Sydney’s Basement. JMO staged the 2nd installment of the Big Band Composition Competition, the winner being Andrew Murray from Victoria. 





In 2008 the orchestra presented an international debut of Steve Newcomb’s Sundaze suite featuring leading US based saxophonist, Will Vinson and young QLD vocalist, Hannah Macklin. In 2008 we also performed a set of original compositions by Dave Panichi for his 50th birthday concert.  


The 2006 live concert, recorded during the final concert of our 2006 tour with Florian Ross, was released in 2007 as CD “Dream Wheel” and launched in Oct 2007 at the Wangaratta Festival of Jazz to critical acclaim in Australia & the USA. Another milestone in 2007 saw the orchestra, with the assistance of APRA and ABC Classic FM, present its inaugural National Big Band Composition Competition at the ABC’s Goosens Hall in Sydney. Four composers were chosen from over 35 entries with the finalists being invited to rehearse the orchestra and have their works broadcast live nationally on ABC Classic FM, with Sally Greenaway from the ACT becoming the first winner. Since then the competition has become a biannual event, staged at Australia’s leading jazz festivals, attracting the best compositions from Australian and New Zealand composers under  42 years. 


In 2006 the orchestra embarked on its first National tour, with German guest pianist & composer, Florian Ross. With financial assistance from the Australia Council for the Arts, the orchestra performed 8 concerts in 4 states, traveling over 7,000kms by road culminating in a recording of our final concert in Sydney.  



In early 2005 we performed with Canadian Artists, Quinsin Nachoff, Darren Sigesmund & David Braid featuring music of composers from Toronto, Canada in a concert for the Sydney Improvised Music Association.  Later this year the CD “The mothership plays the music of Mike Nock” was recorded over 2 days and released to domestic and international acclaim with the orchestra taking its first important step towards becoming an ensemble of cultural significance to the Australian music scene. 


The first concert in 2003 was a sell-out and this encouraged the band to continue performing two concerts in 2004 for Jazzgroove and a month-long stint for SIMA. In late 2004 the orchestra received an Australia Council for the Arts presentation & promotion grant to record & release a CD featuring the music of ex-patriate New Zealand pianist, Mike Nock. Nock, having been a mentor to many of the young musicians in the orchestra, was the perfect choice of artist to honour, with a selection of Nock’s most memorable compositions, including re-arrangements from members of the band, forming the repertoire for this important initial project.  


At the behest of Jazzgroove artistic directors Lawrence Pike and Cameron Deyell, a big band was formed by Murray Jackson, Simon Sweeney & David Theak to perform at the Jazzgroove Assocation Christmas party at Sydney’s Excelsior Hotel, in December 2003. The Jazzgroove Association, an artist run collective based in Sydney, had long discussed forming a big band to provide an outlet for talented composers to have their works expressed by creative musicians. The members of the orchestra were drawn largely from the Jazzgroove Association,  a policy that is still in place today.