If you are interested in commissioning Noonan to compose or make a special performance or simply wish to support any of Noonans projects, please contribute here!  All funds go directly towards the request you make.

2007 Reviews 

The New York Times 
Friday January 12, 2007 


The drummer and composer Sean Noonan approaches postmodern jazz and world music from the same angle of self-discovery. On his new album, "Stories to Tell" (Songlines), Mr. Noonan, attempts to braid together the Celtic balladry of his ancestors with the various traditions of West African griots, Southern bluesmen and downtown-scene alchemists. Because it's all music he feels, the results mostly sounds unforced. Of courseit helps that his collaborators include a Senegalese bassists (Thierno Camara), an Irish folk singer (Susan McKeown and a prominent Malian griot (Abdoulaye Diabate). Also in the mix are a couple of marquee avant-garde improvisers, the guitarists Marc Ribot and the violists Mat Maneri. Brewed by Noon - the whole crew, and ultimately a few more players - participated in Mr. Noonans's fusion quest, which he financed through a commission from the American Composers Forum. At times the work is unimaginable without their contributions. "Esspi" is a vocal feature for Mr. Diabate, who is largely responsible for its discursive melody; on "Urban Mbalax" he compellingly trades verses (in his Bambara) with Mr. Camara (in Wolof). "Noonbrews" features a more liberal approach; Ms. McKeown sings its opening section in Gaelic, buy over a West African ostimato that gradually gives in to a gale of distorted electric guitars. Mr. Noonan is by no means the first jazz composer to draw these onnections-in some ways"Stories to Tell" resembles a caffeinated version of Bill Frisell's 2003 album "The Intercontinentals" (Nonesuch) - but he manages to make his pieces speak 
coherently, and in a unified voice. With luck he'll pull off the same effect tomorrow night with an ensemble including all of teh artists mentioned above, as well as the guitarist Aram Bajakian, his longtime musical partner, and the bassist Jamaaladeen Tacuma, a pioneer of electric free-funk. (Tommorrow at 8:30pm, 
Symphony Space, 2537 Broadway, at 95th Street, Manhattan) NATE CHINEN 

Time Out New York 
January 11-17, 2007 

Brewed by Noon is one of those musical conundrums that 
drives filing clerks nuts. Drummer Sean Noonan hails 
from splatter-jazz trio the Hub, but here he mixes 
with Senegalese singer-bassist Thierno Camara and a 
disparate trio of guitarists: Marc Ribot, Aram 
Bajakian, and Jon Madof. The resulting mix is clever, 
tuneful and celebratory - more often than not, it just 
plain rocks. Tonight's gig celebrates the release of 
the group's second album, Stories to Tell (Songlines) 
which includes stirring vocal contributions from 
Abdoulaye Diabate, Susan McKeown, and Dawn Padmore. 

Sean Noonan Brewed By Noon 
Stories To Tell 

The electric guitar has now been around in jazz for more years than it wasn't, but it still sometimes sounds like the organism might reject the graft. This has nothing to do with a shortage of great jazz players: for pure supple beauty one need go no further than Oscar Moore’s solo, at once crystalline and labyrinthine, on the Nat King Cole Trio’s 1944 recording of “Body And Soul.” But what Moore didn’t address, and what has since been the source of some of the most glorious experiments and ignominious failures with the electric guitar, is 
how to incorporate the many timbral possibilities of the instrument, from steely precision to crackling 
distortion. You can begin to hear a little of this in Johnny Smith’s 1952 rendition of “Moonlight In 
Vermont”—record of the year, according to Down Beat, and featuring Stan Getz as a sideman, but who 
remembers it today? 

It’s a problem which also concerns the fusion of musical styles, and it's interesting that the two 
finest examples of jazz electric guitar (broadly defined) that I’ve heard in the past year combine rock 
and roll with African guitar: Extra Golden’s one-off Ok-Oyot System (Thrill Jockey, 2006), and now this 
album by percussionist Sean Noonan’s Brewed By Noon troupe. 

Such a mixture is a promising recipe, mixing the hard-edged, blocky vocabulary of rock and roll with 
the sinuous, feline, pullulating lines of its African cousins—in the guise of Congolese rumba (as on Ok-oyot 
System, which featured Kenyan benga guitarist Otieno Jagwasi), or the West African forms favored by Noonan and company. The still indispensable African Music: The Pop Music Of A Continent, by Chris May and Chris Stapleton (Dutton Obelisk, 1990) reminds us that African rock is multifaceted and complex, but also 
that it is fundamentally guitar music. The combination is one of ying and yang, masculine and feminine, head 
and heart—and when it sounds right, as it does on these records, it has the ring of primordial 
inevitability and not of dilettantish cross-cultural collage. 

Rock and African music have a rhythmic reference point in common, exploited on both of these records: the 
chatty, trance-inducing, minimalist harmonic patterns woven by, say, Robert Fripp and Adrian Belew in 
early-1980s King Crimson, which sounds so very like the interlinked and overlapping meters of West African 
drumming. (You can also hear this mesmerizing sound, with no guitars, on last year's Stoa, on ECM, by Nik 
Bärtsch’s Ronin.) 

Stories To Tell, at its best, has that fertile combination of the grandiose gesture (for example, 
fuzz-tone power chords) alongside the delicate accent. Furthermore, it’s the centrality of the guitar-based 
fusion that lends the record its coherence. There are three guitarists here, though it is heavy-hitter Marc 
Ribot whose solo voice is most prominent, and protean, sounding like a frenzied Carlos Santana in full flight 
one moment, pensive the next.The musical fusion—or “brewing,” to use the leader’s preferred metaphor—owes a great deal to the percussion ensemble as well. This is a drummer’s record, after all. 

There are other forms of fusion going on here: linguistic, as when Susan McKeown and Abdoulaye 
Diabaté trade verses in Gaelic and Bambara on “Noonbrews,” or when Diabaté and bassist Thierno 
Camara switch between the lingua francas of Mali and Senegal on the fine “Urban Mbalax.” Mat Maneri’s 
atmospheric viola, beautifully featured on the closing “Dr. Sleepytime,” contributes to the Celtic tinge that 
Noonan, a self-described “Irish griot,” seeks to produce. 

“Scabies” may be the record’s masterpiece, though there is nary an explicit nod to Africa. It’s noisy, 
but as was the case of the great 1980s quartet Last Exit (whose gloriously loud jazz the track resembles), 
you can really tell the musicians are listening to each other. As indeed they seem to be doing throughout. 

By Troy Collins 

Percussionist Sean Noonan's Songlines debut, Stories to Tell, is an early contender for one of 2007's most 
eclectic releases. A mind-bendingly diverse blend of West African song-forms, Gaelic folk melodies, urban 
funk rhythms, blazing electric guitars and raucous Downtown free jazz, Noonan's eponymous ensemble is as 
multifaceted as post-modernism gets. 

With a self-released session from 2005 to its credit, Noonan's original lineup is joined by a number of 
high-profile guest musicians on this sophomore effort. Downtown icons like guitarist Marc Ribot, violist Mat 
Maneri and percussionist Jim Pugliese supply passionate performances to an already assertive set. 

Songs like “Esspi” and “Urban Mbalax” bounce along with an Africanized lilt, buoyed by Abdoulaye 
Diabate's impassioned griot vocals. Conversely, “No Strings Attached” and “Dr. Sleepytime” exude 
atmospheric, pensive blues, with understated contributions from Mat Maneri and Marc Ribot. Other 
tunes, like “Scabies” and “NY,” revel in caterwauling guitars unleashing waves of distortion and feedback 
over angular rhythms. Blending ethnic polyrhythms with No Wave noise and robotic Downtown funk, Noonan has tapped into a sub-genre with roots that run deep in the Lower East Side. 

The interlocking guitars of Marc Ribot, Jon Madof and Aram Bajakian parry and feint with fervent intensity 
across the album. Occasionally this torrent of screaming distortion invokes overwrought stadium rock 
excess. Sometimes enthralling, at other times a bit overwhelming, the visceral charms of such force are 

Other than a few slight missteps, such as a clumsy merger of late-night funk and electronic percussion on 
the metaphorical love song “Pineapple,” the majority of Stories to Tell is a compelling listen. It may 
sound schizophrenic on first spin, but on subsequent rounds one can hear a developing artist finding his 
voice. Expect to hear more from Noonan in the future. Visit Sean Noonan Brewed by Noon on the web. 
?Track listing: Massana Cisse; Esspi; Noonbrews; Connection; Urban Mbalax; No Strings Attached; NY; 
Pineapple; Scabies; Dr. Sleepytime. 
Personnel: Sean Noonan: electro-acoustic drumset; Marc 
Ribot: electric guitar; Jon Madof: electric guitar; 
Aram Bajakian: electric guitar; Mat Maneri: viola; 
Thierno Camara: electric bass, vocals (5), percussion; 
Jim Pugliese: percussion; Thiokho Diagne: djembe; 
Abdoulaye Diabate; vocals (2,3,5); Susan McKeown: 
vocals (3); Dawn Padmore: vocals (8). 

by Chris Nickson 
These stories might be told, but don't think they're easy listening, by any means. Working with a core band 
that includes Marc Ribot, drummer Sean Noonan doesn't make his music particularly accessible. "Scabies," for example, churns out sharp shards of guitar that are so dense as to be almost impenetrable. But it's an album 
with many facets, like the Africanisms of "Massana Cisse" or the vocals of Abdoulaye Diabate, who's 
outstanding on his three cuts, or "Noonbrew" with the delicious voice of Susan McKeown. It's a record that 
very much pursues Noonan's vision, complex and twisted as it is, and there can be beauty in the chaos, as in 
the guitar/viola duo on "Dr. Sleepytime," possibly the scariest lullaby ever recorded. Definitely not for 
casual listeners, it's a record that demands attention from your ears and brain, one that falls outside any 
definition -- which is a good thing 

CD Reviews: Sean Noonan Brewed By Noon “Stories to 
Tell” CD-2006 Songlines 
Posted by: adminon Tuesday, January 16, 2007 - 03:43 

By Glenn Astarita 

A Berklee College of Music grad who has led punk-jazz outfits while almost losing his life in a car accident 
in Italy, drummer Sean Noonan kicks it all into tenth-gear on this power-packed and somewhat mesmeric 
effort. With New York City downtown guitar hero Marc Ribot lending his wares and exuding some scrunch and pumped-up jazz-rock lines, the music iterated here presents numerous propositions. Fellow downtown icon and violaist Mat Maneri adds a sinewy edge for a program that exceeds any preconceived expectations. 
Noonan employs Malian vocalist Abdoulaye Diabate’ and Irish folk/rock singer Susan McKeown amid 
percussionists and bassist Thierno Camara for a set that is nestled within West African rhythmic 
structures morphed into potent jazz-fusion opuses. 

Noonan and his ensemble make it all sound au naturel; as if it was meant to be! With his electro-acoustic 
drum-kit, the artist leads the band thru difficult time signatures, largely emphasized with zing, bounce 
and dynamically oriented crescendos. They aim to dazzle the mind’s eye, while periodically shifting 
strategies within a nanosecond’s notice. Noonan reinvents the wheel a bit here. And where others 
dabble or fail, he succeeds at bridging the gap during the preponderance of these fascinating arrangements, 
constructed upon a multicultural array of cadences. Here, jazz vernaculars and birthrights are fused into 
a bold and beautiful chain of musical events, often enamored with vigor and finesse. – Glenn Astarita 

Release Date: Jan 9, 2007 

For additional information, visit: www.songlines.com 

Stories To Tell [H-SACD] (Songlines 1563; USA) 
Featuring Marc Ribot, Jon Madof & Aram Bajakian on guitars, Mat Maneri on viola, Thierno 
Camara on electric bass, Jim Pugliese on percussion, Thiokho Diagne on djembe, Susan McKeown, Dawn Padmore & Abdoulaye Diabate on vocals and Sean Noonan on electro-acoustic drumset & the 
music with lyrics by the vocalists. I recall Sean coming down to the old DMG store and 
leaving us with a few different discs from The Hub, an ambitious punk/jazz power trio that had a buzz going a few years back. The Hub was touring in Italy in 2003 when their vehicle collided with a drunk driver, leaving Sean with two broken legs. Sean was lucky to be alive and it took him a few years get his chops back, 
concentrating on electric drums, as well as his regular drumset. When this disc arrived in the mail last month, I 
was surprised to see that Sean Noonan was back and that he had put together an extraordinary cast of musicians from both the downtown scene as well as a few fine world music players and singers in this, 
his 2nd Brewed By Noon album. Starting with "Massana Cisse", Sean takes an infectious griot melody 
and lets Ribot rip it up. The three guitars play this riff that recalls the Allman Brothers in the early days when 
their music still unique and joyous. Thiero Camara's slippery electric bass burns superbly underneath as the drummers help the spirits ascend together. Mali vocalist Abdoulaye Diabate passionate voice is at the center of 
"Esspi" as Mat Maneri's enchanting (more melodic-than-usual) viola and Ribot's searing guitar swirl around the mesmerizing rhythms provided. One of things that makes this disc special is the way the guitarists work together with different inter-connected parts on each piece. Susan McKeown is an old friend of mine and one 
of those wonderful singers that more folks should know about. Susan sings in a traditional folk song in Gaelic on "Noonbrews", her voice sailing in layers as Mr. Diabate also sings powerfully along her side. The song 
really doesn't sound very traditional especially when Ribot takes one of his truly sick solos. On three tracks, all three guitarists get a chance to take stretch out and take a couple of inspired solos apiece. Sean's Brewed by Noon band played their CD release gig last Saturday (1/13) at Symphony Space with Jamaladeen Tacuma as their guest. Word is that this gig was pretty great, sorry that I missed it. Don't miss out on this great disc, certain to be one of this year's best and the year has just begun. - BLG 
[this is a Hybrid SACD (H-SACD) which means it is 
playable on 
ordinary CD players as well] 
CD $17 

Here's a scenario that repeats itself once if not several times a year. A pop star releases an album, 
one that contains a super-catchy single. Despite the continuing decline of CD sales, this artist's record 
sells millions of copies. Meanwhile, musicians"obviously" far more deserving are left to create 
their sonics in relative obscurity. For some reason (Okay, no doubt many reasons), pop music "non-fans" 
are incensed by this.??Why? Does it really matter if Justin Timberlake's Futuresex/Lovesounds makes its way 
into four million hands while almost nobody has ever heard of Sean Noonan? Hey, my ears don't care, why 
should yours? We can hope for a widening of interests in the general listening public but that's just not 
likely to happen. Like change within governments, listening habits tend to put up with incremental 
shifts only.??Its interesting though, how very different musics can find their way into seemingly 
innocuous trends. Just look at the Norah Jones phenomenon. A cursory listen to her music can yield 
the simplified result of: smooth, laid-back, female balladeer. A more focused look though, reveals 
country, jazz, blues, and r&b influences. It's enough to make a person think that just maybe the listening 
public is smarter than we realize. But is that public forward-thinking enough to sign on with an album that 
incorporates elements of Irish music, jazz, and music of various Middle Eastern and African nations? For 
Sean Noonan's sake, let's hope so.??Noonan's band Brewed By Noon — originally comprised of Noonan on 
drums, Thierno Camara (vocals/bass), and guitarists Jon Madof and Aram Bajakian — was expanded for the 
Stories To Tell sessions to include vocalists Susan McKeown, Abdoulaye Diabaté, and Dawn Padmore, Jim 
Pugliese (percussion), Mat Maneri (violin), and guitarist Marc Ribot. I'll be honest here that I'm 
often very skeptical of bands employing a large cast of guest musicians. It seems as though group chemistry 
can suffer despite the higher sum total of musicianship. Well, that was a needless concern here. 
In fact, it would have been difficult to pull off this melange of styles without moving beyond the original 
group core.??So what does all of this sound like? At times, like Ali Farka Touré-meets-Ornette Coleman's 
Prime Time, though you have to substitute Marc Ribot for Bern Nix. This characterization is particularly 
evident on songs like "Connection" and "Esspi." That groove is not the only style here. The shifty shuffle 
of "NY" surprises by breaking into full-on joyous noisemaking. In direct contrast is "Pineapple," a love 
song that's full of slow burning funk. This is again offset by the volcanic "Scabies," with Ribot leading 
the way with plenty of blistering 6-string abuse.??Sean Noonan states in the promotional material 
that he wants to "...continue to learn more about my Gaelic roots and brew them with West African 
improvisation." "Noonbrews" perfectly illustrates that concept. Billed as an Irish/Malian duet, vocalist 
Susan McKeown is featured early on until Abdoulaye Diabaté takes over. By that time the music has 
accelerated from its initial lilting tempo to an aggressive and sinister guitar-reliant fusion — all of 
which drops away to reveal one last acapella vocal line. Amazing stuff.??Now, for the four million or so 
Justin Timberlake CD owners, a take home assignment: get yourself a copy of Stories To Tell and play "Urban Mbalax" immediately after "SexyBack." Nice, 

SEAN NOONAN BREWED BY NOON Stories to Tell (Songlines Recordings, SGL SA1563-2): Sean Noonan ist ein wahrer Champion, nicht bloß vordergründig durch seine berserkerhafte Schlagtechnik als Thrash-Jazz-Trommler von The Hub. Mit Brewed By Noon, 1999 mit den Gitarristen Aram Bajakian und Jon Madof und Thierno Camara am E-Bass begonnen, macht er etwas ziemlich Verrücktes, er verlegt Irland an die Westküste Afrikas. Der virtuose Pastorius-Jünger Camara, der, bevor er nach New York kam, in der senegalesischen Allstarformation Sora gespielt hat, verkörpert mit seinem Griotbackground den anderen Pol dieser Kontinentaldrift. Der mit dem Jewish Power-Trio Rashanin bekannte Madof komplettiert das, was hinter dieser Drift steckt - die den Juden, Afrikanern, Armeniern und Iren gemeinsame Geschichte von 
Vertreibung, Auswanderung, Diaspora. Brewed By Noons Zweitling nach dem Debut 2005 enthält 
mit Scabies und Esspi zwar auch noch Stoff, den Noonan schon im Duo mit Bajakian auf ChiPS (2003) 
vorgewärmt hat, der jetzt aber luxuriös ausgestaltet wird. Stellenweise durch perkussive Verzierungen von 
Jim Pugliese und dem Djembespieler Thiokho Diagne, ausgiebig durch Mat Maneri mit seiner Viola, vokal 
durch Abdoulaye Diabaté aus Mali, der in Bambarasprache von einem verirrten Elefanten erzählt, 
Susan McKeown, die auf Gälisch das Traditional Ar Maidin, Ar Nóin singt, und die nigerianische 
Sopranistin Dawn Padmore, die soulig von unreifen Ananas abrät. Die Titel Noonbrews und Urban 
Mbalax machen deutlich, um was es geht - einen phantasievollen Melting Pot-Eintopf und um die 
städtische Kompression afro-kubanischer Grooves, die zwischen den atlantischen Küsten hin und her pendeln. 
Herzstück ist das dreifache Simulakrum des Gitarrenpickings der afrikanischen Westküste, das 
selber schon eine Kora simuliert. Nur dass dieser Gitarrenklingklang eingebettet ist in ein Kaleidoskop 
aus elektroakustischen Beats und eklektizistischen Songs und bei NY und Scabies alle Fesseln sprengt. 
Wenn McKeow und Diabaté sich im selben Lied begegnen, ist das zwar bizarr, auf der Gefühlsebene aber absolut stimmig, vor allem wenn Ribot dazu noch ein Himmelfahrtssolo erfindet und mit jedem seiner sechs 
Gastspiele anders verblüfft. Diese sehr New Yorkische Mixtur zusammen mit Noonans flexiblem, dynamischen Drumming verwandelt eben nicht bloß Folklore in Jazzrock, sie lässt Weltmusik wieder unerhört 
klingen und endet mit Dr. Sleepytime , einem Duo für Gitarre und Vierteltonviola, wie man es sich nicht 
hätte träumen lassen können.