Maree Laffan Photography

Confluence (2018) is the second CD release by Eastwinds and reveals the band in its latter six-piece lineup. The album comprises mainly original pieces and is perhaps more representative of an evolved Eastwinds sound than our first outing.  The jazz influences are also more pronounced, as evidenced by the inclusion of double bassist, Kieran Barnes. This album also highlights the ever more assured vocals of Kristiina Maalaps whose improvisation skills are evidenced on the title-track and Between the Cracks.  [Eastwinds: Kristiina Maalaps, Esfandiar Shahmir, Sanshi, Steve Barnes, Kieran Barnes & Mark Cain].

"Persian influences bring a spacious, sonic quality to the music, while the Balkans provides its drive and energy. The success of this recording is that it has so skilfully drawn from these traditions to create something new and fresh. It has an energy and beauty that owes to these music forms and to the skilful musicianship of the band. There are an enormous variety of ideas here that takes the listener on a journey through unchartered waters. Sometimes sublime, sometimes surprising, but always engaging."  David Walker, former President, Australian Institute of Eastern Music, Sydney


Eastwinds released its eponymously-titled debut recording in 2015. The band played at two of the country’s major folk festivals: Fairbridge Festival in WA and the National Folk Festival in Canberra. Their song, Blame Lulu Peanuts (written by Steve Barnes) won the World Music category at the WAM Song of the Year Awards in 2016. They were then nominated again the following year. Kylla Vuotti Uuta Kuuta, is a song I first heard performed by Finnish group, Värttinä. Kristiina''s vocal here is both powerful and evocative.  My tune, 7 for Esi was written not long after our Iranian band member first arrived in Australia in 2013. To accompany the Esi's Persian ney (end-blown flute), I'm playing a small pvc chalumeau I made for this piece. 

Eastwinds: Kristiina Malaaps (Voice & jaw harp - Estonia), Esfandiar Shahmir (ney & daf - Iran), Sanshi (didgeridoo & percussion), Steve Barnes (guitar & guizouki - UK), Mark Cain (saxophones & winds - Aus.) 

Purchase: Eastwinds (self-titled first cd/mp3 - Bandcamp)                  

The Gift - Mark Cain/Kristiina Maalaps

Fourth Friday Freilach (Steve Barnes)

Behamegan (Esfandiar Shahmir)

Kyla Vuotti Uuta Kuuta (trad. Finnish-Karelian)

Blame Lulu Peanuts (Steve Barnes)

Seven For Esi (Mark Cain)


Guitarist, Ilan Zagoria and I have been playing together since I contributed some saxophone to his album, Home. During the lockdown period at the height of covid in 2020 we started to work on a duo album together sharing individually recorded part over the web. The tracks became the basis for our recent release, Shades.

Sharing a common love of southern African music (Ilan was born in South Africa), particularly South African jazz and the music of Abdullah Ibrahim.  But we also found common ground with our love of Sephardic and other Jewish roots musics. Shades was release later that year featuring a mix of our own pieces and tunes that inspired us with their Sephardic-tinged melodies or southern African soul.  La Rosa typifies the former, blending Jewish and early music traditions, whilst  Wedding Songs is drenched in the harmonies of African gospel. Ilan's own Diagonal Street (a street in Johannesburg) is a tasty blend of soukous and mbaqanga with lovely fluid and very danceable guitar lines.

Purchase: Shades CD (Bandcamp)

Diagonal Street (Ilan Zagoria)

La Rosa (Trad Sephardic)

Weddings Songs (T. Matsikiza) / The Wedding (A. Ibrahim


Mark Cain on  Lake Dora at Punmu  (RAWA Lands, Pilbara WA - Awesome Arts Musician-In-Residence 2023) Photo: Sete Tele. The video (taken by Sete Tele:  On Lake Dora )

In 2021 I released, with support from Alexis Courtin (Parenthèses records Records in Belgium) my first solo album since Reeds in 2004, titled Cameos. Using as a basis some of the tracks I had recorded for a Cinematic Scores concert (organised by Alexis at PS Artspace in 2016, Fremantle) and a puppetry production some years earlier (Turtle and the Trade Winds by Sandy McKendrick), Cameos is a series of musical fragments and themes featuring a variety of instruments of different construction, provenance and ethnicity.

I've also included here a couple of unreleased tracks featuring the polyduk, an instrument resembling the Armenian double-reed Duduk.  Using a flattened polypipe reed (the concept of Spanish experimental instrument maker, Xavier Lozano) and a plastic tube body (based on my friend, Linsey Pollak's design), this instrument has sound surprisingly close to its Armenian antecedent. The tune here is written by late 19th early 20th century Armenia composer, Komitas.

Some instruments just speak to you as a player - there is something almost spiritual about them... for me that instrument is the tarogato, a wooden equivalent of today's a soprano saxophone. The tarogato/tarogot was developed (in Hungary and Romania) in the latter part of the 19th century and possesses a beautiful woody timbre. The tune here, Juliaana is based on an old Finnish melody learnt from the Finnish group, Pauanne, which I've re-harmonised for two tarogatos.

I sent Pauanne my recording and their response back: "Wow! We're so impressed! The sound of your instrument is lovely, and the arrangement brings the tune to a completely new level. Thank you for sharing this Mark!"

Purchase: CAMEOS cd/mp3 (Bandcamp)

Gaidarski (arr: Mark Cain / trad. Balkan melody

Gongs and Baritone Sax (Mark Cain)

Qele Qele (Komitas - Armenia)

Juliaana (arr. Mark Cain / Pauanne / Trad. Finnish)

Duduk Dance (Mark Cain)


Born in Pune, India, sarod player, Praashekh Borkar, is considered one of India's leading younger generation musicians. He has invented his own Esarod. This is the debut recording of the Praashekh Quartet and features tabla player, Siva Balakrishnan, bassists Roy Martinez and the diverse percussion skills of Jamie David. Subsequently the Praashekh Quartet evolved into the Praashekh Collective featuring Wayan Dana on bass. Purchase PRAASHEKH QUARTET CD

Fires of Amore (Praashekh Borkar)

Childs Play (Praashekh Borkar)


Daramad traversed terrain between music of the Middle East, Iran and improvised jazz. Featuring two Iranian musicians and drawing on their different cultural backgrounds and improvisational skills, they performed original composition as well as arrangements of tunes by composers of the Islamic world. 

In 2012 Daramad won the Songlines/World Network Medien international competition, Battle of the Bands. Daramad's debut self-titled album was released by Parenthèses Records, Belgium.

"Singly, Daramad's many fine qualities are not so very rare; but you rarely find them all within one band. On the one hand, they offer serious musicianship, integrity, well-informed respect for various traditions. On the other, they are very playful, conversational, in-the-moment, fun, inventive. Composition and improvisation, eastern and western elements, tradition and innovation, quietude and jubilation are equally integral. Daramad's music is vital and substantial; it is worldly, but blessedly free of the crassness and/or tedious 'worthiness' that cripples rather too much so-called 'world' music". 

Doug Spencer (producer-presenter, 'The Weekend Planet', ABC Radio National)

“The group dynamics and improvisations in that rich Middle Eastern context, colour this authentic fusion, rewarding the close listener with jubilant exoticism". 

Peter Wockner, Jazz and Beyond   

"The band blends traditional Middle Eastern influences with the improvised energy of jazz. This it achieves with no small measure of sophistication, subtlety and skill on an interesting selection of instruments". 

Tony Hillier, Rhythms Purchase:  DARAMAD cd/mp3 (Bandcamp)

Zornery (Mark Cain)

Tigris Eye (Mark Cain)

Isfahan (Reza Mirzaei)


Ozmosis are a duo comprising my oldest school friend, guitarist, Tim Chambers  (well known for his long-time interest in hispanic string instruments) and myself. Together over the years we've played Hispanic, Balkan and original music, all laced with liberal doses of improvisation.  On this, our 2006 duo recording on MGM, we feature an interesting array of woodwinds, strings and percussion and of course, a few original tunes. 

"We regularly play tracks from Ozmosis on Classic Drive, ABC Classic FM. Virtuoso performers, guitarist, Tim Chambers and reedman, Mark Cain, were drawn to the sounds emerging with the birth of World Music in the 1980's. One had dived into music of the  Balkans, the other into the enchanting music from the Andes. And now, 20 years on, they have released their first self-titled cd OZMOSIS.  And that's precisely what it is. And Ozmosis take on all they've played and made and consumed in that 20 yrs, gently tinged with a jazz feel at times. So this is neither Balkan not Andean, but is international Perthean.  And they're such fine musicians, that the appeal is immediate. Between them, they excel on countless instruments, some of which you'll recognise, some you will never have heard of. A one-off sound."   Julia Lester, Presenter, ABC FM Classic Drive

Purchase:  OZMOSIS cd/mp3 (Bandcamp)

Santiago (Tim Chambers

Celtic Bazaar (Mark Cain)

Decameron (Trad: Italian renaissance)

MARK CAIN: REEDS (solo album)

Photos by Bob Sommerville 2004. NM125. distributed thru planet/mgm

REEDS (2004 MGM) is a solo multi-layered recording of my own compositions featuring wind and reed  instruments I've made and played. On a couple of the tracks I am joined by percussionist, Paul Tanner.

"It's hard when multi-tracking yourself not to emerge with an unsparky thick lifelessness. But Australian, Cain, experienced in several traditions and master of a wide range of conventional, ethnic and unlikely reeds and flutes with gorgeous rich tone, joined by percussionist, Paul Tanner, makes clear-cut melodies with and interplay and wit that sounds like a finely attuned group." 

Andrew Cronshaw, Froots (FolkRoots Magazine), UK

"The many instruments on this album serve the music masterfully. Reeds is a breath of fresh air from a musician for whom the next breath is just a sound away."          

Doug Spencer, Producer, The Planet, ABC Radio National

Purchase: Reeds cd/mp3 (Bandcamp)

Smiles (Mark Cain)

Tangeet (Mark Cain)

Fixin' to Jive (Mark Cain)

Gralla 1 (Mark Cain)

THE NOVA ENSEMBLE   1983 - 2017

Orchestra of the Global Nomads.jpeg

Orchestra of the Global Nomads (photo: John Austin)

The Nova Ensemble was founded in 1983 by former WASO percussionist, David Pye to perform new music, particularly works from the contemporary percussion repertoire, both overseas and Australian. Over time the ensemble's focus on Australian composition increased and by the 1990s Nova was performing works predominantly by Western Australian composers, including pieces written by Pye and fellow members of the Ensemble (myself included). The Nova studio was based adjacent to Old Customs House in Fremantle and many leading WA musicians and composers worked with the ensemble over its 35 year tenure. Nova collaborated with many arts organisations in WA including: Chrissie Parrot Dance Company, WA Opera, 2 Dance Plus, the Festival of Perth, Musica Viva, the ABC and my own group, AC/PVC. It was one of the most successful contemporary music organisations in the country.


The Orchestra of the Global Nomads were one of the concert project groups developed within the Nova Ensemble in the mid-90s. This diverse group of musicians (of jazz, classical and world music background) performed a largely original repertoire traversing the boundaries of world music. Influences included Indonesian gamelan, tango, gypsy brass band and jazz, among others - a world jazz chamber group may be an apt description. There was no shortage of instruments to go round. 

Members of the Nomads were: David Pye, Peter Grayling, Anja Tait, Lee Buddle, Mike Burns, Paul Tanner, Glenn Rogers, Wency D'Sousa, Phil Bailey and myself.

O.G.N:  Mike's Tango (Mike Burns)    

O.G.N: The Last Romanian Piece/Gankino Oro  

O.G.N: Slapsticks (Mark Cain) 


Junkelan (1993-94) was another Nova Ensemble concert project (featuring compositions by David Pye and the ensemble), this time exploring a post-nuclear holocaust theme, predicated on the notion that the destruction and detritus of what remains from an apocalypse is picked up by a few survivors scouring the remnants, from which a new music is reborn. This concert combined pre-recorded electronic fragments with live synthesis and various 'made' acoustic instruments. The name Junkelan suggests some of the gamelan-like instruments we built for the show from scrap metal - circular saw blades (circular sawrus), metal cogs (cog bonang), stopsignaphone, chainmakers and metal thunder sheets which we suspended. 

In 13 Deadbeats in a Bar a 7-meter slide digeridoo (the extension comprising a length of sewer pipe) lurched threateningly above the audience, whilst a very large 2-sided drum - oil drum taiko (made from two 44-gallon metal drums) stood centre stage. In Holocaust dominant sound is that of various 'thongophones' (an instrument I originally introduced to Nova through AC/PVC) and the distant reed instrument you can hear later in the piece is a Macedonian goatskin bagpipe - gaida that was retuned for David's composition.


For 16 years a quartet within Nova (David Pye, Amanda Dean, Mark Cain, Neil Craig and subsequently, Paul Tanner) performed with the Musica Viva in School (MVIS) program. Over this period we performed in hundreds of schools in WA, the NT, Tasmania and Singapore. We developed three distinct programmes: Boxes, Trash and Pockets and for each we built a range of new instruments along, of course, with new repertoires. In 2001 we recorded our POCKETS show. Again, industrial and recyclable materials were our unmistakable trademark, with the music informed by our proximity to the neighbouring Indian Ocean region  In 1998 Nova performed this show at the  JakArt Festival [Jakarta and Brunei], And In a separate project involving instruments I had specifically built, Nova performed to sell-out audiences at the 2002 Perth International Festival [“Drummers of Gilgamesh”] whilst also inspiring Singaporean schools on their 1999 and 2003 Musica Viva Tours. 

Thongophone-based pieces, Washboard Cha-Cha and Ban the Bombarde Blues were typical POCKETS quartet repertoire.

13 Deadbeats to the Bar - Junkelan (D. Pye) 

Holocaust - Junkelan (D. Pye) 

Ban The Bomarde Blues - David Pye/Nova Ensemble                      

Washboard Cha Cha - Paul Tanner/Nova Ensemble 


Paul Tanner - Marimba

In the 90s I tried my hand for the first time at writing pieces for marimba - in this case, two marimba quartet pieces for the Nova Ensemble. The four players (all Nova members), David Pye, Amanda Dean, Paul Tanner and Ian Robbie played these pieces on two marimbas. One of the joys for a non-orchestral musician like me was watching as a piece with lots of notes on the score was realised into a fully-fledged quartet. I was greatly appreciative of the help David Pye gave in making the parts all workable across two marimbas and 8-mallets. Gnome Anne's Land was my response to an invitation to write a 1-minute piece commissioned by Nova, whilst Tangola for R.B. a dedication to friend, pianist and accordionist, Ross Bolleter, a lover of tangos. Listen for Paul Tanner's expressive marimba solo midway into the piece. (Photo above: Paul Tanner)

Gnome Anne's Land (Mark Cain)

Tangola For R.B. (Mark Cain)                          [dedicated to Ross Bolleter]


Here are two recordings of our "compressed-air panpipes" made during the time fellow reedman, Lee Buddle and I (as the Windcheaters) were working on our show, Brief History of Wind in 1989. You can read more about Brief History of Wind on the Performance page.

The panpipe sets were large (an alto and bass set) - to play the bass set one needed to stand on a ladder. Each player had two compressed-air handguns or narrow-nozzled airguns. Attached to the airguns were long hoses, in turn connected to a compressor housed outside the performance space. To play the larger bass set I needed to stand on a ladder in order to reach the "feeder" tubes that channeled the air over edge of the upright panpipe tubes (see the photos on my Performance page). If you can imagine the importance of a player’s lips to the process of playing a flute, Lee came up with the brilliant idea that to get a better quality sound we needed to place lips (small cross-sections of hose) over the leading edge of each upright panpipe tube. The difference in sound was remarkable. 


The Flying Carpathians were regular and very popular performers during the early days of the Gypsy Tapas House in Fremantle. Recorded live outside at a house party, this album captures the spirit of the band in concert. Embroidered by klezmer, Balkan, Carpathian and gypsy musical threads, this is music for another present era, where life is a dance and tradition never stands still.

Voted best World Music Act at the 2008 WAMI Awards, The Flying Carpathians. Influences from Balkan dance floors and beyond, this versatile quartet features violin, cello, guitar, saxophone, as well as electric bass, mandolin and percussion.  They also introduce traditional instruments such as the Macedonian gaida (bagpipe), Turkish zurna (oboe) and Catalan.

The Flying Carpathians:  Tony Lane - fiddle & mandolin; Danielle Pender - guitar & percussion; Sarah Peet - cello & electric bass; Mark Cain - saxophones & ethnic reeds.

Purchase: Flying Carpathians cd/mp3

Threads (compressed-air panpipes) 

Breath Sketches (compressed-air panpipes (quiet at first...)

Esmerim (trad. Turkish)


I played with Steve and Ros Barnes in Toucan Tango throughout the early to mid-90s along with bassist, Bob Thompson. We recorded the album, Patterns in the Sand in 1992. The track, "Tripod", which highlights Ros' incredibly accurate annunciation of lyrics sung at fast tempo (and in bebop rhythm), features my close friend and colleague, Ross Bolleter on accordion. Summer Breeze has a more languorous feel. Steve and Ros have remained close musical colleagues since with Steve playing in Eastwinds

Tripod (Steve Barnes) 

Summer Breeze (Steve Barnes) 


Language was quartet formed in the early 90s led by Sienna--born guitarist, Deocleziano (Diego) Bosco. The group also featured local Noongar didgeridoo specialist, Derek Nannup, percussionist, Neil Craig, myself and a fine Italian electric bassist (and soloist here) whose name has been lost in the annals of time.

Oi Dada/Kopanitsa  (trad. Balkan)  


Tim, Rita & Mark.heic

Rita Menendez lived and studied music in Mexico before migrating to Australia. An accomplished and versatile singer, she was one of the leading performers in the era of the North Perth Ethnic Music Centre (1983 - 95).. I was part of Rita's group in the latter 80s along with my friend and guitarist, Tim Chambers, who at this time was also playing with the Andean folk band, Los Chasquis along with bassist, Phil Kakulas, with whom I had played in a group called Wanderlust Trio. Together we recorded a couple of cassette albums: Drumming Hearts (featuring "Los Hemanos" and Arafura Sunset. During this time Rita was funded to work with the WA Union movement (the Clothing Trades Workers Union) on a songwriting,  performance and recording project concerning themes in the workplace, particularly from a migrant woman's perspective. "Blossoms of Your Heart" is from the resultant collection. 

Los Hermanos (Atahualpa Yupanqui)  

Blossoms of Your Heart (R. Menendez)  


In 1979 I produced this recording whilst working for Radio 6NR in collaboration with Homegrown Records (engineer: Andrew Gibson) for WA's sesquicentennial. Vi Chitty was the founder (along with Ken Colbung) of Aboriginal  Radio (later Noongah Radio) in WA at Radio 6NR (now Curtin FM). At this time I was a radio journalist training WA's first indigenous broadcasters who put together Ab Radio in what became a three-hour program on a Saturday evening. Aunty Vi was a wonderful and warm-hearted storyteller who, even on radio, made you feel like you were sitting in her lounge room having a conversation together. Some years after making this single, Vi went on to record her first and only album (on cassette), Awakening. She produced her half-hour program over the entirety of my 6-year tenure at 6NR and had a very dedicated following. 

Merv Graham (aka Billy Warner) was a talented guitarist/singer-songwriter (now living and performing in Tasmania), who at this time was studying jazz at what was the beginning of WAAPA (WA Academy of Performing Arts) in Perth. These were the very first recordings on which I played. For Awakening, I accompanied Vi on Awakening  on didgeridoo and for Merv's 150 Down the Line I featured on harmonica.

Merv Graham: 150 Down the Line  

Vi Chitty - Awakening  

Other Recordings...

NOVA ENSEMBLE: SAMPLER                                                                  

A panorama of Nova Ensemble's music for concert, dance and theatre. The music is performed in or for various settings: Junkelan, Rock Sing by Moonlight, Orchestra of the Global Nomads, Trash, The Cave and Inventions. Composer credits include: David Pye, Gary Ridge, Lee Buddle, Warick Bone & myself.

NB Nova Ensemble recordings, Pockets, Junkelan and Sampler are out-of-print


The Wanderlust trio was formed in 1986 by bassist, Phil Kakulas (former songwriter with The Triffids) and percussionist Sally Trewin.  We were a trio playing freely improvised music, inspired by the Art Ensemble of Chicago  playing at most an occasional skeletal melody. The trio played at the 1986 Evos New Music  Festival and at the occasional gig supporting bands like The Triffids or at small Perth venue gigs like the Wizz Bar. The trio recorded its only release, Rite of Passage (on Homegrown Records) in 1987. Phil Kakulas then formed Black Eyed Susans in Perth before they headed to Sydney. 


This festival ran from May 24 - 27, 1985 at Praxis Gallery in Fremantle. I played in various freely improvised settings featuring UK performers, Steve Moore (soprano saxophone and Gillian McGregor (voice and movement). Stalwarts of the local Perth scene included Tos Mahoney (flute), Ross Bolleter (accordian). Richard Ratajczak (double bass) and myself (soprano sax and my hybrid reed flute.  The concerts were recorded and release on an LP, Live at Praxis. Tos went on to form Evos New Music, The Totally Huge New Music Festival and his longtime current setting, Tura New Music.  Since this time Ross Bolleter has pioneered his own highly personal approach to performing and recording on ruined pianos and is internationally recognised as both a composer and performer. He is also a Zen Buddhist teacher.