I’m sitting opposite the stage at a small round table with a classically “jazz” lamp in the middle. This place is Jazz live at The Crypt, a venue under the old church in Camberwell, south London.
I paid £5.00 for my student ticket and, to be honest, I didn’t expect anything amazing. But, the last two hours were absolutely mind-blowing and I’m still not sure what to make of it all. I’m about to meet the artist, Sean Noonan.
He calls himself the rhythmic storyteller on his website and now I understand why. Every song that he played was a separate story that he told with passion and humour.
Jazz Box LDN: Wow, Sean, that was so different from what I’ve heard already this year. It was very intense! I didn’t feel like I was at a concert, it was more like an avant-garde theatre play, and I love theatre.
Sean Noonan: Well, I must admit that I did some theatre in the past. I like to make sure that people in the audience enjoy themselves and they are engaged in the concert. I don’t like traditional jazz concerts and I want people to be entertained.
Jazz Box LDN: You named your last record after the salt mine in Poland- “Wieliczka”. What inspired you about that place?
Sean Noonan: Actually, I went to the “Guido” coalmine in Silesia, south Poland, and I heard stories about a man who lives under the ground there. I am often inspired by folklore and I collect stories from all around the world to transform them into music. While being in Poland, I was also inspired by classical music by Henryk Gorecki, a famous composer from Silesia.
Jazz Box LDN: As you said, you are transforming stories into music. You are telling them in a very cleaver and funny way, but you are not singing. Do you prefer to express the stories about folklore, treasures and sometimes about ketchup through rhythms instead of lyrics?
Sean Noonan: Yes, but that’s because I can’t sing! The story with the ketchup is about my best friend, who eats a lot of ketchup and is always late. It’s supposed to be just a funny song. I take inspirations from everyday life, folklore, hip-hop, urban stories. I also did some music with people I met in Africa. I learnt a lot about their culture and music. I’m Irish, so, I collected stories from Ireland too.
Jazz Box LDN: Why jazz and percussion then? Do you play any other instruments?
Sean Noonan: I’ve played jazz since I was 10 years old. I have a friend in America and we were learning how to play jazz at the same time. I was also a music teacher for children, so I would teach clarinet, trumpet, but to be honest I can only play percussion really well.
Jazz Box LDN: How long are you staying in London and when’s your next performance?
Sean Noonan: I’ll stay a while, I think. I just moved here and I want London to be my base for Europe from now on. My next concert will be March 5 at Vortex Jazz Club. We’ll be playing with a different piano player and we’ll be playing new music that will be recorded for our new album later in the year. It will be called The Reluctant Astronauts. You should come and bring your friends!
Jazz Box LDN: I will definitely be there! I’m sure it’ll be just as interesting as tonight. See you there.
Get your tickets here.