Mark Nodwell


SGL 1527-2

“The music has a unique sound world that contains moments of extraordinary beauty and also great intensity…Nodwell’s compositions are so well-conceived and performed that I was totally gripped…If this recording doesn’t become a classic then it certainly deserves to.”

— Jazz Review (UK)


For his debut CD, Vancouver saxophonist/composer Nodwell has assembled an international sextet of cutting-edge improvisers to interpret his music. Four long compositions provide the groundwork for explorations in mood, melody, and spontaneous collaboration. Each piece charts a different journey through various spaces and traditions, shifting between lushly textured out-of-time sections, spare or driving solos and duets, intense grooves, and raucous free-for-alls. The images evoked in the listener’s mind’s eye reflect the music’s varied roots, linking creative jazz and open improvisation with elements of contemporary classical, progressive and psychedelic rock, ambient, and traditional musics of Eastern Europe and Asia. The expressive opportunities provided by the combination of acoustic and electric instruments with electronic effects, and the disciplined energy and often searing lyricism of the playing, should especially attract younger audiences to this accomplished example of next-generation jazz.

Born in Edmonton in 1973, Mark Nodwell took his B.A. in InterArts/Music at Boulder’s Naropa Institute (where his teachers included Art Lande, Jerry Granelli, and Cecil Taylor); he also studied with Paul McCandless and Fred Hersch. Active as a bandleader and organizer in Vancouver’s young creative jazz scene, Mark has performed with the NOW Orchestra and its guests George Lewis, Vinny Golia, and Paul Cram, and with Muhal Richard Abrams. His style suggests interests in minimalism, meditative states, and shakuhachi music.

Violinist/violist Eyvind Kang graduated from Seattle’s Cornish College of the Arts where he studied with Michael White. He has created a unique approach to the violin by combining classical and jazz with improv/noise/industrial/punk and world music, particularly Hindustani classical music. He spends much of his time travelling in Europe, North Africa and Asia, soaking up different traditions, jamming and recording. CDs under his own name include Sweetness of Sickness (RGI Industries), 7 NADEs  (described by Andrew Bartlett as “infamous cavalcades of noise, found sounds and tape manipulations”) and Theatre of Mineral NADEs (both on Tzadik), and Dying Ground (s/t, Avant), a trio with Calvin Weston and Kato Hideki. He tours and records with Bill Frisell (Quartet, Nonesuch), is a member of the Wayne Horvitz 4 + 1 Ensemble (s/t, Intuition), toured Japan with Beck, and has also performed and/or recorded with John Zorn (Great Jewish Music: Burt Bacharach, Tzadik), Sun City Girls, Motel 6, Joe McPhee, Michael Bisio, Nana Vasconcelos, Arto Lindsay, Mr. Bungle, Secret Chiefs 3, “sad-core” group Los Parasitos (with Trey Spruance), and his avant-funk band Deformations.

François Houle’s clarinet playing reflects his interest in jazz experimentalism, contemporary classical vocabularies and instrumental extended techniques. His improvisational style draws from Evan Parker and William O. Smith’s multi-layered sonic explorations and Anthony Braxton’s linear sound formings to create a personal synthesis. Based in Vancouver, he tours frequently in North America and Europe. His recordings include Hacienda, In the Vernnacular  featuring Dave Douglas and Mark Dresser, and Nancali with Benoît Delbecq (all on Songlines), and CDs with his Trio, Joelle Léandre/Georg Graewe, and Marilyn Crispell (all on Red Toucan), with Eyvind Kang/Dylan van der Schyff (Pieces of Time, Spool), poet Catriona Strang (The Clamourous Alphabet, Periplum), and as a member of the contemporary classical ensemble Standing Wave. He has also performed and/or recorded with the NOW Orchestra, Vancouver New Music Ensemble, Myra Melford, Michael Moore, Vinny Golia, Scott Fields, Gerry Hemingway, Evan Parker, John Butcher, Paul Plimley, Erhard Hirt, and Gunter Christmann.

New York guitarist Khabu Doug Young grew up in Texas, won three student Down Beat awards, and earned his B.A. in Music/Holistic Healing at Naropa, where he subsequently taught. He formed the Russian Dragon Band with Art Lande (2 CDs including When Kentucky Was Indiana, Synergy), and also performs and records with Primal Mates (2 CDs including Duos/Trios, Synergy). His CD The Book of Bu will be released next year on Synergy. He has performed with Paul McCandless, Fred Hersch, Kirk Whalum, Rufus Reid, Billy Harper, Marvin Stamm, and Billy Cobham.

Masayoshi John Anzai has played electric bass, alto sax, drum machine, turntables etc. in various Vancouver groups and collaborative projects such as Amour Fou (which he leads), Meathook Ensemble, Ujaku, Reflector, Surface Tension and hospital (2 CDs on Noisebludgeon), ranging from jazz and improv to ambient dub, funk and hip-hop, psych, rock & noise.

Drummer Jack (John) Raham is active in Vancouver jazz, improv, funk, folk, world, and hip-hop scenes. He tours with Millenium Project (2 CDs on Mo’Funk) and singer Kinnie Starr, and performs in Reflector, Ujaku, Green Room, Springer and Ducommun, Meathook Ensemble, and the Agenbite Large Ensemble.


“…weaves together composition and improvisation with an extraordinary power.” — Chris Wong, Vancouver Courier.

“…Nodwell… is a very canny soprano player, often using repeating, evolving ostinati to exhilarating effect, betraying a sense of drama and showmanship unusual in this kind of music…Nodwell’s Eastern European influences sit well with François Houle…[Houle’s] breadth is one of his chief virtues, and the music here gives him plenty of opportunities to drift from cool jazz to free-form to klezmer…This is a disc of which Nodwell can be genuinely proud. The very beautiful, slow-moving opening to ‘The Eagle and the Wolf’ would move the most iron-willed of sceptics, with its West African harmonies in a free-floating, unpulsed rhythmic space…The group improvisations here are often splendidly good.” — Richard Cochrane, Musings

 *** “It’s not only young NYC players who are digesting jazz, rock, and traditional music from around the world to produce a fiery new brand of improvised music. On (Co)Incidents, Vancouver saxophonist Mark Nodwell assembles a sextet of fine northwestern musicians for an engaging debut that touches on all of the above and more. Nodwell’s long, episodic compositions (the shortest of the four tracks clocks in at just under 16 minutes) unfold slowly and thoughtfully, as rigorous composed passages give way to open form improvisation and back again…The leader’s nimble soprano conjures images of Asian and Eastern European winds more frequently than it does Sidney Bechet, while guitarist Khabu Doug Young scores points all over the map, from delicate accompanist to fierce soloist (his solo turn on ‘The Eyeball Spider’s Progress’ seemingly manages the odd task of reconciling In a Silent Way-era Miles Davis with Chicago indie rock)…The group navigates Nodwell’s demanding charts smoothly, leaping in and out of musical genres both familiar and fresh (and, more commonly, amalgams thereof) with utter conviction.” — Tom Benton,

“This is a nice find — a CD that manages to be avant-garde and friendly at the same time. If you’ll excuse the trite comparison, this disc reminds me of Phish’s early releases in a sense. Just as ‘Junta’ brought some of the more appealing aspects of 60’s and early 70’s rock into the present without being nostalgic, this CD does similar things for the avant-garde jazz of the same era.
The four tracks on ‘(co)incidents’, which average almost 20 minutes apiece, are similar. On each cut, pensive, modernistic composed passages give way to quiet solo statements from various members. Odd-meter vamps eventually appear and lead to vigorous themes with traces of Eastern European music. There are some edgy moments, especially from guitarist Khabu Doug Young, but the harshness of much experimental jazz rarely appears here – instead, long stretches of near-silence are common, and the players exhibit a firm grasp of both melody and noise. Even drummer Jack Raham’s solo on the opening cut Laurie’s Lake is melodic, with identifiable motives on the cymbals and toms. Soprano saxophonist Mark Nodwell wrote the music, but each member of the sextet gets equal space. Often I hear traces of the AACM school of jazz (Anthony Braxton or the Art Ensemble of Chicago), and the dancelike themes recall the more eccentric side of John McLaughlin or Gong. Francouis Houle’s opening solo on bass clarinet reminds me of the intro of Santana’s ‘Caravanserai’ record…This is music that requires concentration, and that rewards it.” — Pat Buzby,

creative jazz/world/fusion
  1. Laurie's Lake
  2. The Eyeball Spider's Progress
  3. The Eagle and the Wolf
  4. Winter Solstice
  • Mark Nodwell, soprano saxophone, compositions
  • Eyvind Kang, viola
  • François Houle, clarinet, bass clarinet
  • Khabu Doug Young, guitar
  • Masayoshi John Anzai, electric bass
  • John Raham, drums
  • Release Date
    September 14, 1999