Brewed by Noon
"Boxing Dreams" "Stories to Tell"
Personnel: Aram Bajakian: electric guitar, Max MSP; Marc Ribot: electric guitar; Susan McKeown: vocals; Abdoulaye Diabate: vocals, conga; Mat Maneri: viola; Jamaaladeen Tacuma: electric bass; Thierno Camara: electric bass; vocals; Thiokho Diagne: percussion; Sean Noonan: electro-acoustic drum set, percussion.
Brooklyn drummer Sean Noonan adds “My goal is to adapt folklore in a modern jazz context, merging storytelling and folk music from bardic and griot traditions.” The basic concept isn’t particularly novel in jazz: what happens when “wandering” folk melodies and grooves from different cultures are communally re-created through improvisation. But the ingredients, the brewing methods, and the spirit of the resulting music, are indeed different.
Since the release of his previous Songlines record Stories to Tell in early 2007, Sean Noonan has been busy stirring up the ingredients of his unique “wandering folk music” project, and here’s the new brew. Grandiose, intoxicating, and sui generis, Boxing Dreams is a wildly ambitious and idiosyncratic concept album that blends passionate vocals and time-honored lyrics from Ireland, Mali and Senegal, raw power-jamming jazz/rock guitars, shape-shifting improv viola, dense soundscapes, funked or punked up drum and bass grooves and complex, dancing polyrhythms. The musical stories Noonan tells are as diverse as ever, but the overriding metaphor of the record’s title suggests how he wrestled its elements and his own restless subconscious into a personal artistic vision.
"Stories to Tell," the new album by drummer Sean Noon's group Brewed by Noon, is a funky feast of music .....bursting with talented musicians and interesting sounds ...." All About Jazz New York
"Drummer Noonan's notion of conflating 'bardic and griot traditions' has juice. The Celtic tunes and African grooves retain their singularity, even when surrounded by flashes of fusion." The Village VoiceMATT MARSHALL all about jazz
There's a solid history of jazz supplying the soundtrack for boxing. In fact, Jack Dempsey, and boxing in general, was one of the sporting kings of the jazz age. But while Miles Davis gamely tried to string boxing along as he pushed jazz forward, both art forms have seen better days—in terms of popularity—than those they now find before them.
Thankfully, Sean Noonan hasn't gotten the notice of surrender. The latest offering from his Brewed by Noon outfit finds the group energetically hoofing it to Boxing Dreams that stir Celtic and African blood in a sweaty gym of American noise, even when paying tribute to an Italian heir like Rocky Marciano.
With songs derived from the lyrics of ancient Gaelic poems and sprung by African beats, Noonan and his crew have crafted a spirited, worldly music that hits with the "Susie Q" bop of a Marciano right (or crash of a forearm trailing behind his left hook)—hard and sneaky like that. From the thunderous "Courage," driven by Afro-Celtic howls and Marc Ribot's fuzz guitar, the group skips into "Morpheus," a perky pop number that The Cranberries might have produced if they'd sung in their native Gaelic. Likewise, the album highlight, "Big Mouth," jumps through the vocals of tribal dance before tripping into a light Irish reel.
True to the flame-streaked gloves and trunks he dons for the CD's cover and liner photos, Noonan's drumming is consistently of the go-for-broke-each-round variety. It drives the distorted punk-country-metal barrage (if you can imagine such a thing) of guitarists Ribot and Aram Bajakian. Mat Maneri's viola also features prominently and serves to bridge any gaps this ethnic and genre-bending music encounters on its path between the lyrical and explosive ("Story of Jones"), the path that is boxing itself.
Noonan never lets his corner rest, but goes full out for 11 "rounds" (as he terms his compositions). The affair doesn't reach a twelfth and final round, so Noonan fans approaching this new work can safely assume their champion scores a knockout.