Rhythmic storyteller Sean Noonan composes and conducts with a pair of drum sticks original multi-stylistic music, fusing his discoveries from harmolodic jazz-rock to avant-garde chamber music. While on tour in 2003 a near-fatal car wreck led to discovering the "wandering folk" theory that captures the elusiveness of ever-evolving world music traditions and reorients them through his own distinctive lens like a punk-jazz Alan Lomax.
The treasures that he finds along the way are filtered through his distinctive vision to become the unpredictable and far-ranging sounds of Noonan’s wide-spectrum music, which combines the eloquence of an Irish bard, the narrative rhythms of Samuel Beckett, and the raw physicality of a street-smart boxer. As a drummer, his compositions serve as an extension of his limbs, mapping out polyrhythmic language on the drum set using Sensory Percussion that is later structured with collected tone rows (Alban Berg), multi-temporal rhythms (Conlon Nancarrow) and aleatoric comprovisation (John Cage, John Zorn).
That nomadic muse has led Noonan in a wealth of unexpected directions, resulting in an explosion of 20 dynamic releases with an incredible array of artists from across the musical map, including Abdoulaye Diabaté, Marc Ribot, Jamaaladeen Tacuma, Mat Maneri, and Can’s Malcolm Mooney.
His projects have performed hundreds of performances in over 15 countries, including such international venues/festivals as: Bimhuis, A38, EFG London Jazz, Haldern Pop Festival, Jazz Liege, Jazz Od Nowa, Sons D'Hiver MS Stubnitz Nottingham Jazzsteps Vilnius Jazz Festival Jazzclub Unterfahrt The Roulette, NY Kraakpand, Ghent. In 2016 Sant'anna Arresi Jazz Festival commissioned Noonan to premiere his Zappanation Rock Opera dedicated to Frank Zappa and Edgard Varèse, which included the Corocum Sardinian Choir and Ligeti Quartet.
It all began in the city of Brockton, Massachusetts, hometown of legendary boxers Rocky Marciano and Marvelous Marvin Hagler - perhaps providing some explanation for the drummer’s fighting spirit. Noonan left Brockton to study Music Education at Boston’s Berklee College of Music and earned his Masters in Music Composition from the Aaron Copland Music School in Queens, NY. He spent part of those years on Sanibel Island, Florida, backing legendary Hollywood songstress Marni Nixon – an unlikely forge for the theatricality he would later bring to his own performances.
Noonan made his recording debut with the acoustic piano trio date Trio Jazz, featuring bassist/educator John Lockwood of The Fringe. He settled in New York City in 1999, quickly integrating himself into the fruitful Knitting Factory scene. He formed the notable jazz-punk trio THE HUB with bassist Tim Dahl and saxophonist Paul-Alexandre Meurens.
Combining his two musical loves: jazz and African rhythms, the ensuing sonic wanderlust fueled a 2008 trek to Bamako, Mali, to gain a first-hand experience of West African griot traditions alongside Malian singer/guitarist Abdoulaye Diabaté. That trip culminated in the multi-cultural album Boxing Dreams, one manifestation of Noonan’s amorphous Afro-Celtic punk-jazz project Brewed By Noon, which released five disparate albums between 2006 and 2011 and was the subject of filmmaker Tom Asma’s documentary Being Brewed By Noon.
Noonan’s approach can be heard at its most distilled on 2014’s Bruised By Noon, a solo drum and spoken word album relating gambler Finny Finnegan’s 12-round battle with a resolute wall. That was just one part of a trilogy of head-spinningly diverse but interconnected albums released that year, along with In the Ring, a song cycle drawing inspiration from Bela Bartok that treated New York’s Momenta String Quartet as an extension of the drum set; and Pavees Dance: There’s Always the Night, a free-funk trio with legendary bassist Jamaaladeen Tacuma, a veteran of Ornette Coleman’s electric Prime Time band, and Lou Reed’s last guitarist, Aram Bajakian, performing lyrics by infamous Can frontman Malcolm Mooney. In the 2016 Noonan adopts a magical scepter to dig the depths of the Wieliczka Salt Mine in Poland to reveal its hidden treasures on the album "Memorable Sticks".
"Imagine a head on collision between Swell Maps, Gong, the Residents, the Magic Band and the Modern Lovers. Freeform jazzy struts, too many notes; outrageous, dayglo sonic curlicues." Richard Foster - Louder Than War
"The commitment to overall ambience, and mystery, and dark intensity is unwavering. Has there been an album (Memorable Sticks) so nonchalantly creepy released this year? That would be hard to imagine." New York Music Daily
"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
"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 Voice
"You think this might be boring? C’mon man, relax, this is Sean Noonan…it’s like nothing else out there." Something Else! S. Victor Aaron
"Menacingly surreal, often assaultive, a feast for fans of dark, challenging music…it’s a category unto itself – and one of the best in any style of music. Scary Stuff from Sean Noonan." Lucid Culture
"Stories to Tell," 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
"Noonan strikes again conducting a string quartet with his drumsticks…like Bela Bartok french kissing with John Zorn. I wonder when the man finally will get some serious recognition in Culture loving Flanders?" Rifraf (BE)-Bootsie
"The drummer is a musical terrorist at heart…well-conceived and expertly arranged and performed pieces that reveal not merely an inner logic, but an external one as well. " Thom Jurek-allmusic
"This is not the typical release but an experience. A dynamic and virtually flawless execution of art at an apex of creativity few can match." Brent Black @CriticalJazz
"Sean Noonan's A Gambler's Hand is a further step forward in his evolving blend of music and narrative." - All About Jazz
" ....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." www.ejazznews.com