There is no shortage of press coverage for Sean Nowell & The Kung Fu Masters, set to appear June 10 in The Main Street Café for Clarksburg Uptown’s 2016 Summer Jazz Stroll. For the past decade or so, Nowell has been earning a place among jazz music’s young lions, and along the way, music critics and journalists have offered commentary on Nowell and his individual approach to jazz music.
The quotes range from “breath taking electric jazz/funk” to “old school tunes with a contemporary twist” to “a supersonic stew that really gets the blood flowing” to “an all-absorbing, ever-evolving entity.”
Depending upon your understanding of jazzspeak, it seems obvious that Nowell, at the very least, makes a big impression. Event producers agree.
“Oh, yes,” said Eric Spelsberg, West Virginia Jazz Society President, “Sean’s performance will get your attention and hold it throughout. He’s a very exciting live performer.” An informal WVJS committee voted to invite Nowell and his comrades to the sixth Stroll event in Clarksburg in the last three years.
For the evening performances which begin at 6:30PM, Nowell will play tenor sax as he leads a quartet of internationally experienced KFM jazz artists, including Costas Baltazanis on guitar, Adam Kipple on keyboard, Andreou Panagiotis on bass, and Lev Doron on vocals and drums.
For more insight into Sean Nowell & The Kung Fu Masters, The Clarksburg Post set up a Question and Answer session with Nowell in his Astoria, New York studio. Here’s a synopsis of that exchange:
Q. What can people in Clarksburg expect from Sean Nowell and the Kung Fu Masters?
Nowell: “It’ll be ethereally jazzed-out versions of classic rock tunes, high energy mixed meter jazz/funk and Middle Eastern melodic explorations.”
Q. What is the big difference between playing in New York City clubs and on tour?
Nowell: Tour is always exciting and enriching, yet invariably exhausting. Sometimes it’s all about sounding your best while feeling your worst. For example, when I was on tour in China last summer I had stomach issues for the entire two weeks but still had to deliver the message every night with gusto. As a pro, you deliver the strongest performance possible no matter what. And the reason is to honor the cats in the band, to honor the audience, to honor the performance opportunity and to honor one’s self. Also music is miraculously healing. I can feel terrible before the downbeat but once the show starts, it’s on. I actually fractured my kneecap May 21 and am still going to deliver the best possible experience for the people of Clarksburg on June 10.
Q. Is West Virginia a different experience for you since your wife is from Clarksburg?
Nowell: I truly enjoy visiting my wife’s family and friends in the Clarksburg area. Also the occasional trip to The Wonder Bar is always welcome.
Q. What is your most positive musical moment while playing in WV?
Nowell: I’m guessing that the upcoming concert will yield a very positive experience for all involved. But I truly enjoyed presenting The New York Jazz Exchange, my NYC/Stockholm project a couple of years ago. We were treated super well and the sounds were very well received. Also playing my first midnight mass ever when my wife and I were dating (under the direction of her parents) was entertaining to say the least.
Watch this live performance of Sean Nowell & The Kung Fu Masters at WNYC’s The Greene Space in New York City:
Nowell is married to Clarksburg native and Broadway star, Kirsten Wyatt. For more information
on Clarksburg Uptown’s Summer Jazz Stroll phone 304/269-3683 or email: Stroll@WVJazzSociety.com.