Looking at the numerous projects in which Max Nagl is involved, one thing instantly becomes quite clear. This is a musician who wants to create his own freedom and for whom the words “fear of contact” are a foreign term. There is hardly any music genre in which the award-winning saxophonist and composer can not succeed impressively. Driven by almost irrepressible curiosity and by the great love of experimenting, this multifaceted jazz musician always rises up to new musical challenges.
Is it solely the instrumental virtuosity that distinguishes a musician? Or is there far more to the deal of positioning one self as an independent artist. Perhaps it requires the courage to leave old ways in order to get free and ready for new paths. Without doubt, Max Nagl belongs to a group of musicians who fight with vengeance against being categorized, against losing focus in repetitions, and who always take on new musical projects.
Born in 1960 in Upper Austria, Max Nagl already received piano and clarinet lessons and played in the local brass band in his early childhood years. After school he went to the Bruckner Conservatory in Linz, where he studied piano. This was followed by saxophone studies at the Conservatory in Vienna, as well as studies of musical movement education at the Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts in Vienna. Since 1980, the saxophonist has been active in countless formations and band constellations, and, in the course of time, has also succeeded in working on an excellent reputation outside of Austria. The multi-faceted and extremely versatile musician has already toured through Europe, the USA, as well as to Australia, North Africa and Taiwan.
Holding on to traditional jazz standards is not really Max Nagl’s thing. The saxophonist doesn’t look at music as a closed system which is subdivided into different segments, but rather as a broad field which has to be to worked on artistically. The versatile musician is all about getting rid of the tight corset of rules and creating new spaces for his music. In his compositions, the Upper Austrian always trys to reconcile opposites, no matter if they are about different forms of playing, sound structures or harmonies.
What primarily distinguishes the saxophonist from others is his enormous versatility and an almost uncontrollable joy of experimenting and this is consequently reflected in the immense range of his musical understanding. A key element of Max Nagl’s music is improvisation and the energetic interaction with his fellow musicians. His pieces often only take their final shape after the interaction. It is the spontaneous creative process itself, from which the compostions of the saxophonist get the moments of tension.
In his work, Max Nagl celebrates the flirt with the unexpected. No matter what musical context, whether jazz-rock with “Go 4 It”, free jazz with “Manhattan Love Suicide” or producing a connection between jazz and classical music in “Maxixe”, the native Upper Austrian never shys away from new and unknown territory. With his release “Market Rasen” in 2006, the exceptional musicians even ventured into the world of pop music, especially that of art pop icon Robert Wyatt, the drummer, singer, composer and co-founder of the legendary experimental group “Soft Machine”.
In addition to his instrumental skills, it is particularly his undisputed openness to new ideas which makes Max Nagl one of the greatest musicians of the country. No matter whether as a solo artist or as a member in a formation, Max Nagl presents himself as an artist who is often a step ahead of his time. With the ability to always expand his own music with new facets, we may assume that we will hear a lot more of Max Nagl in the future.