"The Monash Art Ensemble (MAE) was founded in 2012 as a collaboration between the Sir Zelman Cowen School of Music at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, and the Australian Art Orchestra (AAO), which I established in 1993. The AAO has always explored the liminal zones between notation and improvisation, between musical cultures, dialects and histories. The MAE has continued in that tradition, bringing students and staff of the School together with veteran AAO players, some of Australia's finest improvisers.
"As Johan Huizinga described so lovingly in his immortal The Autumn of the Middle Ages, the 14th century was a time of extremes, the likes of which we can only dimly imagine now, a time when light and darkness were concepts of a physical, psychological and spiritual immediacy that defined life in all its aspects. It was a time of heraldry, of ritual, of esoteric speculation, conflict and pestilence. Rich pickings, therefore for the crafters of fabliaux, the vernacular, often bawdy verses that lie behind such immortal masterpieces as Boccaccio's Decameron and Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. It is the flavor of this literature that Dave has adopted as the platform for these nine beautiful pieces.
"Dave presents us with the 'distant mirror' as Barbara Tuchman described that period, refracting the pre-tonal harmony, hockets, polyphonic and numerical complexity and coarse timbres of medieval music through the prism of a contemporary and eclectic jazz language, by turns colorful, raucous, tender, chaotic and majestic. It has been deeply satisfying to be a part of this project; I hope you, the listener, have as much fun with Fabliaux as we did in playing it." Paul Grabowski