Being Brewed By Noon
Being Brewed By Noon
What comes after "fusion?" The brewing process maybe. Sean Noonan's New York includes West African, Irish, and Armenian friends, musicians and storytellers. It is no wonder that his music is equally steeped in global flavor. Brewed by Noon is a fermentation of wandering folk music from the New York progressive jazz scene.
Sean Noonan's goal is to adapt folklore into a modern jazz context, merging storytelling and folk music from the Bardic and Griot traditions. Like old wine in new bottles, his mission is to ultimately understand and preserve these ancient traditions by re-interpreting folklore from a modern perspective. Brewed by Noon is a global village band comprised of Thierno Camara (bass/vocals,) Aram Bajakian (guitar,) Abdoulaye Diabate (guitar/vocals/percussion,) Susan McKeown (vocals,) Mat Maneri (viola,) Marc Ribot (guitar,) and Jamaaladeen Tacuma (bass.)
Sean has developed as an astute band-leader, something in the eccentric tradition of Sun-Ra, rallying his band-mates in his boxer's robe, or showing up to rehearsal in the Russian gangster look he's been cultivating of late (mono-color tracksuit, big chains, sunglasses), coalescing his style and ideas into the music, directing an eclectic group of musicians from a variety of different cultures. Through his unique persona, the sincerity of his ideas and--more than anything--his stunningly original music, Sean has managed to put together a band in Brewed by Noon that bridges both generations and cultures.
innova's Being Brewed by Noon is a live CD with DVD. The audio disc includes live performances from Brewed by Noon's spring 2007 tour in New York and throughout Europe. The bonus DVD features a full documentary and extra live music video footage of Brewed by Noon's performances on the New York underground scene. Beginning in 2003, filmmaker Tom Asma compiled footage of Sean Noonan's various projects, demonstrating how he organizes, produces, composes, and rehearses his one-of-a-kind ensemble. Brewed By Noon
“The drummer and composer Sean Noonan approaches postmodern jazz and world music from the same angle of self-discovery: he manages to make his pieces speak coherently, and in a unified voice.” —The New York Times
it hits you all together like a wave, in wide screen. Its not exactly relaxing but extraordinary captivating, intense, and indeed also dreamy. editors rating ***** out of ***** visitors rating ***** out of ***** – Door Frank van Herk
I won’t come up with complete list of highlights here, as it will force anoth- er 1500 words on you when, honestly, you should be listening. It’s safe to say that tracks like “The Return Of The Peanut Butter Queen” (jazz through a Captain Beefheart filter), “Over-n-Out” (full-on freakout), “Story of Jones” (country, devolving into skronk), “Big Mouth” (funk-a-licious) will have you wondering why Sean Noonan isn’t a household name. – Mark Saleski
ALL ABOUT JAZZ
Noonan takes the notion of Afro-Celtic fusion quite seriously, with Susan McKeown singing in Gaelic and Abdoulaye Diabaté and Thierno Camara in (I think) Wolof and Bambara. The substrate upon which this fusion occurs is a layer of earnest, ponderous 70s-FM rock and roll. The 70s connection is especially apparent in the marvelous "No Strings Attached." "Pat the Cat," meanwhile, is the best of the new numbers, if only half brewed—a punky, rock segment, followed by several minutes of dreamy, brooding Gaelic verse, punctuated by Ribot's riotous guitar. This music has a certain drunken grandiosity—and amiability. It sounds spontaneous, but cannot help but let you glimpse the considerable musical intelligence that holds it together. Letting Noonan talk about his musical philosophy on the DVD—and providing visual evidence of his kinetic drumming style (in the agitated lineage of Jack DeJohnette), adds to the experience.
by Jeff Dayton-Johnson
If you liked the blend of afro-irish on Stories to Tell by Sean Noonan's Brewed by Noon, you definitely should love the live versions of the The Hub drummers "Noonbrews" on Being Brewed by Noon (Innova Recordings, innova 686, CD + DVD).The CD which was recorded the first half of the year 2007 in NYC, Holland and Slovenia, contains wonderful, often a bit more extended concert versions of "Esspi", "No Strings Attached", "Noonbrews" and "Dr. Sleepytime". In Addition to that there are two, to me yet unfamiliar Noonan-compositions plus "Zaman" by Senegalese bass player Thierno Camara and the Armenian "Karaslama" by guitarist Aram Bajakian, mutated to a celtic song. Mat Maneri plays his viola to that in a very folklorish way. Jamaaladeen Tacuma is the second bassist and Marc Ribot also the second guitarist. The interactive singing of Susan McKeown and Abdoulaye Diabaté, who also plays guitar and percussion, is what makes this project with all its musical allures so special. This is not only stunning, it also simply moves one, how profound the Green Island, the Black Continent and the New York turmoil meet on a multidimensional, multicultural but also astoundingly common denominator of groove, feeling and storytelling. The polyglot guitarists alone, with one mind-blowing statement after another, always embedded in complex, smooth and electro-acoustic rhythmic, leave you in an awe every single time. The DVD visualizes "Pumpkinhead" as a boxing-like Noonan solo and offers, live from Maribor, a never ending version of "Masana Cissé", the story of a 13th century Malian king, whose desire only brought him death, and "Urban (Mbalax)", which infiltrates the seething noise of a metropolis with griot singing. But it is especially the in-depth documentary by Tom Asma that shows why Noonan is a champion, who beats up the cheesy aspects of cross-over and culture mixing so heavily. One yearns to hear the bell. Interviews, rehearsals, bits and pieces of concerts, Brooklyn again and again. Noonan explains what it is that makes griots and bardes so fascinating to him and why he is not made for the ordinary. Bajakian tells about how they met and how he himself is astonished by how big Noonan thinks. However bringing Ribot, Maneri and Tacuma together on a stage would be ingenius by itself. But also letting them play celtic heartbreakers and West African hymns, to do that requires a vision, that Noonan developed after his near fatal car accident in 2003. Diabaté, one of 16 Diabaté-siblings, is of course the one, who comes the longest way to do this. His hymns and Camara's bass that beads all discrepancies, make the midday sun that brings Noonan's brew to boil.
by Rigobert Dittman
GATHERING DREAMS FROM ALL OVER THE WORLD
In 2003, he almost lost his life in a car accident and maybe its because of that, the Irish American drummer seems to be in a hurry because on his new Brewed by noon album there is enough material to cover two or three albums. The concept of the group is special, a sometimes clashing and tense combination of jazz, hard rock, Celtic and west African music. Gathering musical element from all over the world we hear this often but seldom as good as in this project. The aggressive punk jazz guitar of Marc Ribot transcends the flames of sound produced by his colleague Aram Bajakian, the micro-tonal singing of Mat Maneri’s viola, ecstatic griot vocals of Abdoulaye Diabaté and the more darker folk vocals in Gaelic of Susan McKeown, and the funky bass playing of Jamaaladeen Tacuma: it hits you all together like a wave, in wide screen. Its not exactly relaxing but extraordinary captivating, intense, and indeed also dreamy. editors rating ***** out of ***** visitors rating ***** out of *****
by Door Frank van Herk
A few years ago, I started writing down short descriptions of the bits of my dreams that managed to survive the evening. The moods ranged from pretty darned funny (Grateful Dead guitarist Jerry Garcia playing basketball for the Los Angeles Lakers) to somber in the extreme (two scuba divers having an underwater conversation about a third, who was a about to drown). After getting several of these down on paper, it occurred to me that the short vignettes had a lot in common with how I experience lyrics in popular music. That is: I hear them only in fragments. Now, you might think that this ruins the artist's intent, that my model of perception would cause me to miss the point of a song. You might have me there but, in my defense, I do seem to 'get' most songs... over time and by a sort of musical osmosis. Drummer/composer Sean Noonan put together Boxing Dreams as a series of musical dreamscapes, with each tune to be considered its own story. Despite the fact that these tales are delivered via Ireland, Senegal, Mali, and America (with languages Gaelic, Wolof, Bambara, and English), the music helps bring the stories to life — they make sense, even when the language does not. Very much like a dream. With an incredible cast of players that includes Marc Ribot (guitar), Amram Bajakian (guitar, Max MSP), the great Jamaaladeen Tecuma on bass, and leader Noonan on drums, it's safe to say that you've never heard music like this before. The key players here are vocalists Susan McKeown and Abdoulaye Diabate, and Mat Maneri on viola. The vocals curl their way around each other, Maneri's viola acting like an extra voice. Musical dreamscapes? Yes, beginning with the opening title track. Elongated guitar, viola, and bass lines swirl around creating a kind of ambient fog. Things slowly move toward the ominous as the guitar swells, finally erupting into a few huge power chords with even more powerful vocals from Abdoulaye Diabate. That exhilarating climax gives way to the transition into "Courage," where the story is told via Maneri's viola, intertwined with both Diabate's and McKeown's vocals. The searching nature of the tune doesn't prepare the listener for the song's jarring, almost punkish midsection. The surprising new direction really does represent Boxing Dreams in microcosm. I won't come up with complete list of highlights here, as it will force another 1500 words on you when, honestly, you should be listening. It's safe to say that tracks like "The Return Of The Peanut Butter Queen" (jazz through a Captain Beefheart filter), "Over-n-Out" (full-on freakout), "Story of Jones" (country, devolving into skronk), "Big Mouth" (funk-a-licious) will have you wondering why Sean Noonan isn't a household name. That is, if you're not afraid to dream a little. 4 stars out of 5.
by Mark Saleski
Bruises, a torn eyebrow and blood dripping from your nose: that’s what you are left with once drummer Sean Noonan is finished with you. It feels wonderful. The New Yorker, posing in a ring with robe and gloves on his new cd Boxing Dreams, is a charming exciting type. Like a cross between stand up comedian Jochem Myer and an angry rat from a cartoon, he relentlessly knocked out both the audience and his bandmembers last Wednesday in Paradox, Tilburg. Bare feet and in boxershorts. It went on and on and on, presenting a unique and utterly focused musical brew of (among others) African rhythms, urgent improvisations and a fair doses of Jimi Hendrix rock. Polyrhythm and irregular grooves are popular among improvising ensembles these days, but rarely it sounds so un-academic as it does with Noonan. It’s because of his natural/self-evident playing techniques, filled with subtle accents but easy to follow. On top of that, Brewed By Noon is a carefully selected group of musicians, just as unconventional as they are appealing. The imperturbable basslines of Jamaaladeen Tacuma are like a warm wall to lean against, guitarist Aram Bajakian defines the mood in a virtuosic way. But the ultimate stimulate comes from Malian percussionist and vocalist Abdoulaye Diabate. His lines move between those of the dominating western harmonies, they are powerful and unshakeable. It made you long for more. And the frighteningly genius noise guitarist Marc Ribot wasn’t even there. He will join the band for the concerts in Utrecht and Amsterdam.
by Koen Schouten
In today’s music industry, overt commercialism and pop paparazzism often run rampant. The world music genre, unfortunately, has also been adversely affected by such P.R. ploys and sonic shenanigans. This is not the case on Sean Noonan's Boxing Dreams. The album reflects the drummer/percussionist/composer’s fervent eclectic interests. Noonan and his mates incorporate elements of heavy rock, West African griot, Celtic melodies, avant-garde, punk, funk and other edgy influences. Prearranged cacophony is often the backbone of many songs, thundered by Noonan’s able drumming and from Aram Bajakian’s and Marc Ribot’s roaring electric guitars. The title track, “Boxing Dreams,” is reminiscent of some of the emboldened, pensive improvisations by the ’72-’75 King Crimson line-up, although Noonan’s tune features African chants. This segues into “Couráge,” a still brooding, yet more upbeat number with Gaelic and African chanting. This is an ambitious project: It may be too “out there” for a few listeners, whereas others will delight in Noonan’s sinewy songwriting.
by Robert Kaye
Of all the fusion/hybrid discs in this review none are wilder than Sean Noonan's Being Brewed By Noon. Brooklyn-based drummer Noonan has literally gathered a world-spanning crew of musicians from Africa, Ireland, New York, and Philadelphia to create an amazing stew of African highlife, Celtic folk, screaming rock guitars, and funk. The contrast between McKeown's soothing Irish voice, Diabate's high, keening vocals and the band's choppy violence is really powerful. The CD also comes with a bonus DVD that contains a documentary on the band and three music videos. Altogether one tremendous package.
by Jerome Wilson