Menagerie is the spiritual jazz project from the prolific producer, songwriter and guitarist Lance Ferguson, best known for his eclectic and highly acclaimed work under the Lanu and The Bamboos monikers, and here venturing out to explore new musical terrain. The first album, ‘They Shall Inherit’ is out in December 2012 on CD, vinyl and digital; featuring a guest appearance from the legendary US jazz/funk vibraphonist Roy Ayers, the album has gained early support from the authority on all things leftfield, Gilles Peterson (Worldwide/BBC 6Music).
Lance was inspired in this project by his reflections of fatherhood, which shaped the album, and his children’s names feature in some of the song titles. A true ensemble project, on which Lance takes a back seat in performance – soloing only once and otherwise letting his Menagerie do their thing – the album was recorded with the assistance of long-time production partner and engineer John Castle. Other members of the ensemble include saxophonist Phillip Noy on sax and Mark Fitzgibbon on keys, as well as Fallon Williams with a lead vocal appearance. On the album they have inherited the sound of some of the classic music of Harry Whitaker, Gary Bartz, McCoy Tyner, Weldon Irvine and the labels Tribe, Strata East and Black Jazz. But far from being simply a 1975 time capsule, this project is pushing forward; songs like The Chosen sound like a live jazz take on some of the club music experiments of the 21st century producers who have been inspired by Ayers, Mizell and the like.
As stated in the album liner notes to ‘They Shall Inherit’, by Australian tastemaker Ennio Styles (3RRR FM):
“Back to the future… It’s time to open the door to the cosmos and let Menagerie’s sweet songs take you sky high.”