Though his talent as a percussionist was immediately evident, the real story of Marc Wagnon's success is one of a series of fortunate encounters with equally prodigious artists. Born in Lausanne, Switzerland, his early musical tastes focused on progressive rock bands like King Crimson, Led Zeppelin, Yes and Genesis. He was also impressed with the fusion sounds of Miles Davis and the Mahavishnu Orchestra. It was a Gary Burton concert, though, which helped him focus his desire to become a musician -- he was impressed with Burton's technique, creativity and flexibility on the vibraphone. Soon after seeing that influential performance he would enter the Geneva Conservatory to study classical percussion, including the vibraphone, which would become his instrument of choice.
The five years that Wagnon spent at the Geneva Conservatory was supplemented by a year at the Berklee School of Music in Boston. Though his time there was short, it produced several relationships which would later prove helpful. At Berklee Wagnon met Dave Douglas, whose improvisational skills were an inspiration to Wagnon; he also met Dave Kikowski, who would become his consistent collaborator.
After his stint at Berklee, Wagnon moved to New York City where he began a series of projects and really began to develop his own unique style. He formed Dr. Nerve with Kikowski, a band with an aggressive, grinding sound that Wagnon described as "Schoenberg meets the Sex Pistols." During the Dr. Nerve years, Wagnon kept busy with several side projects. He produced an album under the band name Tunnels with famed bassist Percy Jones and Brand X drummer Frank Katz in 1993 entitled With Percy Jones. Tunnels featured a more straight-ahead jazz fusion sound than Dr. Nerve, showing off Wagnon's skill on the vibes. Wagnon's side projects didn't seem to affect his commitment to Dr. Nerve, however. Before they disbanded in 1997, they would release seven albums on the Cuneiform label. In that same year, Wagnon released the results of two other side projects. With No No Diet Bang, a collection of Swiss musicans, he produced a cd entitled Profan for the Bambrus record label. He also kicked off his new music service company, Buckyball, by releasing a collaboration with vocalist (and Buckyball co-founder) Sarah Pillow: Paper Cuts, which was a collection of jazz standards. The label would eventually release several other Wagnon releases, including a reissue of a side project from the late '80s, Shadowlines. Another Tunnels album, Painted Rock, and another collaboration with Pillow, An Afterthought, both pushed Wagnon further into experimental jazz territory and showed off his consistently evolving technical mastery. ~ Stacia Proefrock