Music by John Ellis
Libretto by Andy Bragen
MOBRO uses the historical journey of the MOBRO 4000 as a thematic launching point, examining issues of what we consume, what we waste, and what we reject. But the environmental issues are primarily secondary; the historical journey of the MOBRO is used as metaphor: this is an epic quest told through the eyes of the garbage – a story of yearning, of escalating rejections, of self-knowledge, and ultimately of redemption.
After getting commissioned by The Jazz Gallery in NYC, Andy and John spent several months researching the historical journey and drafting a 12 part narrative super-structure that provided the framework for the piece. John selected musicians for their gifts at communicating the widest range of emotion, and then wrote with their individual temperaments in mind. Conceived of as one continuous 75-minute work, the transitions are of critical importance; events flow into each other in surprising ways and the widest palate of color and tension is used to pull the listener into another world. In order to appreciate the vision as intended, MOBRO should ideally be listened to in one uninterrupted sitting.
MOBRO was originally a commission by The Jazz Gallery as a part of its 2011 Residency Commissioning Series, which was made possible in part by a grant by the Jerome Foundation with additional support from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs. It was premiered at the Jazz Gallery in April 2011. The original concept was developed with additional support from The Playwrights’ Center, Minneapolis, MN in partnership with the Network for Ensemble Theaters and Theater Grottesco.
Becca Stevens, Miles Griffith, Sachal Vasandani and Johnaye Kendrick on vocals
John Ellis on tenor and soprano saxophones
Alan Ferber and Josh Roseman on trombones
Shane Endsley on trumpet
John Clark on horn.
Mike Moreno and Ryan Scott on guitars
Joe Sanders on bass
Rodney Green on drums
Roberto Lange on sound design
Hear interview here. This week, I talk with saxophonist John Ellis and playwright Andy Bragen about their newest collaborative work titled Mobro. The Mobro 4000 was a trash barge that traveled internationally looking for a place to dump its contents. John and Andy used this as a jumping off point and wrote a 75 minute […]
Read entire review here. A musical suite inspired by a trash barge? OK, so it’s not exactly Billy Budd or The Marriage of Figaro, but what composer/saxist John Ellis and librettist Andy Bragen have done for this 75 minutes is to create a kind of modern day Odyssey, with the barge as a symbol for, […]
Read entire review here. If MOBRO the beautiful album from John Ellis and Andy Bragen is an allegorical story based on the near-apocryphal voyage of the Mobro 4000, it is as likely to sound like life itself, or sailing along with the flotsam and jetsam of life and allowing the transformative effects of such a […]