Caught modern jazz guitarist Sebastian Noelle last week at the German Consulate, where he played with an international line up: tenor saxophonist Marc Mommaas hails from the Netherlands; drummer bassist Matt Clohesy is from Australia and drummer Ross Pederson from the USA (North Dakota). Sebastian grew up in Germany, and now calls the Big Apple home. His music is suffused with influences from many cultures, especially western Europe, the Balkans, and Indian ragas (which he’s been studying for the last 10 years or so).
Many of the songs, such as Another Spring, begin softly, with an acoustic feeling guitar, brushes on the drums, slowly building up volume as the bass and sax join in, (the sax blending perfectly with the guitar) then picking up tempo before seamlessly winding down. In his extended composition Rolling with the Punches he used that same motif to great effect to reflect that piece’s title: a loud, brash, tumultuous opening, then quieter, with the guitar dominating, then slowly louder, more strident with a steady pulse, getting louder, and finishing with an impressive raga sounding sax solo at the end. Home in a Strange Land opened with strong rhythms that made me think of city traffic, hustle and bustle, the instruments playing against each other in quick interludes, burning with their own freneticism, as if mimicking the swirl and hubbub you feel in a place that’s not quite home.
These were just the highlights of their set. I’m looking forward to hearing more from all these musicians in the future! Keep them on your radar screen.