Multifarious is a Kansas-based international trio featuring Susan Mayo – cello, Paul Elwood – banjo, and Sue McKenzie -saxophones. Bela Fleck meets The Art Ensemble of Chicago. From jazz and avant-garde via deconstructed bluegrass, the trio weaves inventive improvisations amongst diverse sounds. Sue McKenzie (saxophone) is a Yanagisawa / D’Addario Woodwinds Artist and performs with internationally renowned Salsa Celtica performing alongside Julie Fowlis, Eliza Carthy, Ross Ainslie, Kathleen Macinnes, and Martin O’Neill. She has recorded on Delphian and Linn Records.
Recent gigs include the 606 Club / Jazz Cafe (London) and West Holts Stage (Glastonbury). Paul Elwood (banjo) plays experimental music, bluegrass, and jazz, collaborating with bluegrass legend John Hartford, composer Christian Wolff, experimental music pioneer Alvin Lucier, percussionist Famoudou Don Moye of the Art Ensemble of Chicago, guitarist Eugene Chadbourne, cellist Hank Roberts, guitarist Jean-Marc Montera, and pipa players Min Xiao-Fen and Gao Hong. Susan Mayo (cello) is active in the classical world, playing with the Wichita Symphony, but also with the Switchgrass String Quartet, one of the only improvising string quartets in town, the folk-pop group MHM, and other alternative ensembles.
She runs Flint Hills Counterpoint an ecology/arts non-profit. QUOTES “I have followed Multifarious since 2019 and invited the trio to Katowice JazzArt Festival (Poland) due to the originality of the project and high-level of all the three musicians. Polish jazz media also got interested in the project, spotlighting Multifarious on Krakow-based radio Jazz Kultura.
Now as Artistic Director of Music Meeting Festival (Netherlands), I invite Multifarious in 2023, presenting them to international professionals and a large Dutch audience. – Martyna van Nieuwland (Director, Music Meeting Festival, Netherlands) Incidents, the debut EP by the trio Multifarious, is a glorious collision of disparate influences and aesthetics from around the world, hurled together to create something daringly new from the unexpected possibilities of saxophone, cello, and banjo.
Of course, the banjo is forever associated in the popular imagination with the American rural bluegrass tradition but it’s worth also remembering the extent to which it’s a key voice in the Berber folk music of Morocco. That’s suggested on the opening track ‘Kachina,’ on which Paul Elwood’s swiftly plucked banjo and Susan Mayo’s nimble cello pizzicato create a trance loop with hints of Gnawa, over which Sue McKenzie’s soprano sax flutters like banners on a desert city’s walls.
‘Ghaer Mulki’ pushes even further east, with an Arabian lilt from the sax, complemented by the steely, microtonal whine of bowed banjo, and a camel-ride clop on cello. ‘Incident at Max’s’ brings things back closer to a contemporary jazz milieu, with a complex head arrangement straight out of the New York downtown scene, giving way to loosely cascading group improvisation, while ‘Nice Folks’ throws time travel into the mix, conjuring a strange twist on early 20th-century speakeasy jazz.
Throw in flashes of klezmer, subtle nods to Indian raga, and the ever-present hum of irresistible hoedown momentum and you have a dizzying global trip for headphone explorers.
Daniel Spicer (Journalist)
Multifarious is a “many-faceted” trio featuring Susan Mayo – cello, Paul Elwood – banjo, and Sue McKenzie – saxophones . From jazz and avant-garde via deconstructed bluegrass, the trio weaves inventive improvisations amongst diverse sounds. They have been featured on BBC Radio 3, Dutch TV VPRO, WUTC Radio, Radio Jazz Kultura (Poland) and have performed in the UK, France, Croatia, the Netherlands, and the US. Sample program: Kachina – Paul Elwood : Plucked banjo and nimble cello pizzicato create a trance loop, with sax fluttering like banners.
Ghaer Mulki – Susan Mayo: Persian inspired with a lilt from the sax, the steely, microtonal whine of bowed banjo, and a camel-ride clop on cello. Nice Folks – Paul Elwood: A strange twist on early 20th-century speakeasy jazz. Gathering Gig – Sue McKenzie: A jazz twist on a Scottish form. Poets of Andalucia – Paul Elwood: Exploring the world of Andalucia over a mesmerizing 10/4 groove. Incidents at Max’s – Paul Elwood: A complex head arrangement straight out of the New York downtown scene. Ivaravi – Paul Elwood: Inspired by Ravi Shanker with a subtle nog to ragas.
Fariousity – Susan Mayo: A slow exploration of the melodic. Ornery Ornette – Paul Elwood: Inspired by Ornette Coleman – electrifying rhythmic leaps and an all-out blues jam.
$7,500 flat fee. Includes, travel, lodging, and extra community or educational activity. Contact Multifarious for the possibility of collaborating with other venues to reduce cost.
All members of Multifarious are seasoned educators and have worked in settings from preschool to college. They can present everything from workshops on rhythm and phrasing for preschoolers, to masterclasses for university students covering performance, improvisation, composition, or the business of making a living as a musician. Contact us to create a unique specific activity for your community.
Multifarious is a gregarious group that is adept at creating dialogue with their audiences. This makes them an ideal group to play for seniors, retirement homes, or school performances. In addition, they are all seasoned at presenting artist talks and have a rich and varied range of artistic experiences to share. They are also committed to collaborating with artists from other genres and would be delighted to be part of other interdisciplinary projects in the community, such as partnering with dancers or playing live with films.
Educational Activity Recording