Saxophonist, flautist, composer and more, Sean Nowell is among new voices in the New York jazz Scene making an impact. The Birmingham, Alabama native is rooted in swing, blues, gospel and soul, and has studied and earned degrees at Berklee and the Manhattan School of Music. He has composed in a variety of genres including modern classical, big band and ballet, as well as composed and improvised film scores. He has collaborated with actors, poets, dancers, and acrobats from around the world and served as Musical Director for the New York based Bond Street Theater. He has just issued his second CD as a leader, The Seeker,” (Posi-Tone). His saxophone, clarinet and flute is supported by pianist Art Hirahara, bassist Thomas Kneeland, drummer Joe Abbatantuono, cellist Dave Eggar and guitarist Nir Felder on a collection of originals and classic ballads.
The Seeker opens with Nowell displaying his fervid attack and hard tone on a hard bop original, New York Scene. It is followed by his ballad playing on the standard You Don’t Known What Love Is, where drummer Abbatantuono stands out with his responsive playing. The traditional Oy Matze Matze, has a klezmer flavor evidenced by the vibrato in Nowell’s tenor playing. Nowell’s Dunavski Park, is an atmospheric ballad with some tart playing , while Jaqmie’s Decision, has a dreamy flow to it and more of Nowell’s hard tone. The tempo picks up a bit on For All Intensive Purposes, on which guitarist Felder help state the theme before Nowell digs in. There is also some strong playing by pianist Hirahara. A lovely rendition of Lennon & McCartney’s I Will, with Eggar’s cello adding musical color, follows before Nowell and the band swings out with an imaginative romp through I Remember You, closing this striking recording disc on a energetic note.
Sean’s website is http://www.seannowell.com/ and The Seeker is available from itunes, amazon, emusic and Posi-Tone Records itself.
I believe I received my review copy from Jazz & Blues Report in which publication this review originally ran (the March 1- April 15, 2010 issue (issue 324)).