How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
Stories to Tell, by drummer Sean Noonan's group Brewed by Noon, offers a funky feast of music. An eclectic mix of jazz, rock and world music, the ten cuts on the CD draw on many cultures and influences, creating a combination that defies categorization. There's also a lot of humor; witness Aram Bajakian's liner notes, which begin, "Sean Noonan kicks my ass." But don't be fooled by the irreverence and informalityStories to Tell is bursting with talented musicians and interesting sounds.
The most powerful cuts on the disc are the vocal pieces. The standout vocalist is Abdoulaye Diabate, whose forceful, resonant voice is a wonder to behold. He is the featured singer on "Esspi," a song about an elephant who gets lost; Diabate sings in Bambera, a gorgeously musical language from Mali. The tune also features Mat Maneri's soaring viola. Diabate sings as well on the short but sweet "Urban Mbalax," where he's joined by Theirno Camara, who sings in Wolof (a language from Senegal). Then there's "Noonbrews," which features Susan McKeown singing an Irish folk song in Gaelic, with back up by Diabate. McKeown's haunting voice is accompanied by a modern musical background, including a full-on guitar solo.
The other notable facet of Stories to Tell is that it's a showcase for three electric guitarists: Marc Ribot, Aram Bajakian, and Jon Madof. The three explore a variety of moods, particularly the expansive solos that comprise much of '70s rock music. Stories to Tell has much to offer, especially for those who like to explore world music and who enjoy the magic of electric guitar.
Track Listing: Massana Cissé; Esspi; Noonbrews; Connection; Urban Mbalax; No Strings Attached; NY; Pineapple; Scabies; Dr. Sleepytime.
Personnel: Sean Noonan: electro-acoustic drumset; Marc Ribot, Aram Bajakian, Jon Madof: electric guitars; Mat Maner: viola; Thierno Camara: electric bass, vocals, percussion; Abdoulaye Diabate, Susan McKeown, Dawn Padmore: vocals; Jim Pugliese, Thiokho Diagne: percussion.