“A stealth player that has flown under the radar for too long, Tell Me should start turning some heads quickly…A prolific soloist and arranger, Russ Nolan is an artist that remains true to his craft…Great tunes, solid arrangements, a formidable 4tet makes Tell Me one of the sleepers of the year.
Russ Nolan is a player you will remember long after the last note.”
– Brent Black, @CriticalJazz.com
“While making a name for yourself as a saxophonist on the New York jazz scene is no easy feat, Nolan has what it takes to compete with the best of them and he lays it all out on Tell Me.”
– Dan Bilawsky, All About Jazz
“Mr. Nolan, a Tenor Saxophonist of Rhythmic and Harmonic Fluency”
– Nate Chinen, New York Times
Though this is anything but a dance record, most of the music was inspired by dancing the last five years
in the New York Salsa scene. Eddie Torres, the scene’s legendary innovator, once told me I ‘was one of
the only musicians he knew who could get the music from his fingers down to his toes.’ It was only
natural to take what I learned in the dance and apply it back to my music. These compositions are some
of my first ‘steps’ in the Latin Jazz world.
Writing a tune and instructing the rhythm section to ‘just play it Latin’ is similar to telling a world-class
chef to simply ‘make me a meal’. Many details had to be fleshed out.
My seven Latin-influenced compositions have references to some of my favorite composers and their
works. For example, both No Secrets (a Brazilian Baião in 2/4 time) and View from the Bridge (a Bolero in
10/8), are based on Jaco Pastorius’s classic, ‘Three Views to a Secret’. Tell Me is based on a combination
of Herbie Hancock’s harmony on ‘Tell Me a Bedtime Story’ and the form based on Pastorius’s ‘Havona’
from his Weather Report tenure.
A study of Hancock’s re-harmonization of Stevie Wonder’s ‘I Just Called to Say I Love You’ had a
profound effect on me writing Beyond Arbitrary (Afro-Cuban 6/8) and the 12/8 undercurrent of Creepin’
(also Stevie Wonder) was influenced by one of renowned drummer Ignacio Berroa’s grooves on his
Codes recording (one of my favorite Latin Jazz compositional study albums). Oliver Nelson’s classic,
Stolen Moments is also treated as an Afro-Cuban 6/8 undercurrent. Although not a strict or traditional
Salsa composition, Joe Zawinul’s, A Remark You Made gave me a vehicle to treat a ballad with some
Finally, the two non-Latin-influenced arrangements of Man in the Mirror (performed by Michael
Jackson; straight eighths, 7/4) and Nowhere Man (John Lennon) were written for the dear members of
my faithful following in NYC. Although most of them are not musicians, they wanted to hear their
favorite music in a new way. As every bandleader knows, it is vital to develop an audience beyond one’s
peers. I find an honest comment from a non-peer about the overall effect of my music infinitely more
helpful and inspirational than the redundant and often obligatory ‘Ya, Man’ or ‘Sounds great, Man’.
Thank you for the opportunity to share my love and excitement for music with you.