©Brett Delmage, 2018
The post-tornado power-outage didn't stop Nomad from delivering a spellbinding battery-powered and acoustic performance at The Record Centre ©Brett Delmage, 2018

IMOO Fest 2018, Day 3:
The Record Centre
Sunday, September 23, 2018 – 2 p.m.

View photos by Brett Delmage of this performance

If a power outage could be considered to be an opportunity, Nomad undoubtedly made full use of that possibility to create spellbinding music at The Record Centre on the final day of IMOO Fest 2018.

Playing acoustically and without drums, they created billowing and beautiful soundscapes which filled the store and kept almost everyone there intently listening.

The blackout had still not lifted in Hintonburg, but the record store had opened briefly on Saturday and then all day Sunday, hosting two jazz shows of which Nomad was the second. Ottawa musician Keith Hartshorn-Walton was able to lend the band not only his double bass, but even more importantly a battery-powered amp for the band's guitarist. And music lovers came out – both to hear the bands, and to flip through record bins and buy LPs.

IMOO Fest 2018 organizer Brad Evans introduced Nomad. He noted that he was so impressed after he'd first heard the band in Ottawa, that he went to hear them in Montreal two weeks later.

The quintet formed in Montreal, but its members have now scattered to Toronto and the U.S. But their performance still showed a strong connection among them, as they played compositions by different band members. All the material the quintet performed was recently-written, with the exception of the title tune of their latest CD, As We Are [2016].

They opened with that piece, by trumpeter/pianist Simon Millerd, a peaceful combination of circling bass clarinet, sparse bass lines, chiming guitar notes, and finely attuned piano. That flowed into “Primordial Valley”, by clarinetist Ted Crosby. It was a more intense but still reserved piece intertwining melodies from guitar, bass clarinet, tenor sax, and piano, then building up to a more ominous climax of deeper and rawer clarinet and tenor, before ending with a gentle, singing melody on guitar and clarinet.

“Nightshade”, by bassist Ben Dwyer, was an evocative ballad featuring trilling bass clarinet, which slowly scattered into individual instrumental lines, crossing and diffracting, as it flowed into the next piece, Crosby's “Vigilante”. That piece had a strong forward rhythm, embroidered by dancing pizzicato notes from guitarist Jacob Wiens and quick circling clarinet and tenor lines.

“Om Ram” by tenor saxophonist Mike Bjella, was more measured and powerful, with a deep ebb and flow under braided melodies from trumpet, tenor, and bass clarinet. The group closed their hour-long show with Crosby's “Maitri”, which opened with almost a classical vibe and developed into a sinuous clarinet and tenor duet. As its last notes died out, the room went completely quiet, and stayed that way for several beats before the audience broke into extended applause.

I particularly enjoyed the beautiful ambiance this group created with their hushed and flowing yet intense playing. I hope they can keep up this connection, because they clearly have a fine musical communication and collaboration together.

Set list:

  1. As We Are / Simon Millerd
  2. Primordial Valley / Ted Crosby
  3. Nightshade / Ben Dwyer
  4. Vigilante / Ted Crosby
  5. Om Ram / Mike Bjella
  6. Maitri / Ted Crosby

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