The child is father to the man, and Alex Nollan’s maturation as a musical artist exemplifies the poetic maxim. Born in Memphis, city of so many rich genres of American music, Nollan from an early age was steeped in the sounds and traditions of classical, rock, soul, and jazz. His early music studies took place at the Rhodes Music Academy, and by the time he reached high school, he knew he would devote his professional life to music—especially jazz. He played in J. Thomas Link’s SBA Jazz Ensemble for four years, which performed as the front band for many established groups of various genres, such as the Memphis Symphony Orchestra and eclectic jazz keyboardist Charlie Wood’s band. Nollan also racked up 40 hours of recording studio experience at the Leeway Studio and the Charlie Wood Studio in Memphis. The SBA Ensemble was good enough to land the 2007 Downbeat Magazine international award for Best Blues/Pop/Rock Band, performing and competing in Chicago, Orlando, and New Orleans. At this stage of his development Nollan studied regularly with international jazz artist Michael Jefry Stevens, who guided him and gave him much encouragement.
During his high school and college years Nollan immersed himself in both classical music and jazz, attending many operas, ballets, and contemporary music concerts. In July, 2004 along with his parents he was the personal guest of Alexandre Rachmaninoff, grandson of the famous composer-virtuoso pianist Sergei Rachmaninoff, at the Ravinia Music Festival in Chicago. In order to broaden his musical and cultural horizons, Nollan traveled internationally several times to Germany, Italy, and Russia. He entered Middle Tennessee State University in Jazz Studies, receiving encouragement from Don Aliquo and Tom Giampietro; and at the University of Memphis he advanced in jazz through lessons and guidance from talented pianist Gerald Stephens. When Stephens transferred to Rhodes College, Nollan went with him, earning his Bachelor’s Degree in Music (concentration Jazz Studies) in 2013.
During his senior year at Rhodes he performed in the Jazz Band led by John Bass: in the spring the band played at the Overton Park Shell, with Nollan being honored to play with Charles Lloyd. At this event he met Donald Brown.
Donald Brown and Alex connected immediately. So drawn was Alex to the great jazz artist, gifted educator, and humane individual that he began commuting to Knoxville monthly to take lessons with Brown. He spent the year following graduation in studying intensively with Brown’s former student Steve Lee, Grammy-winning pianist Tony Thomas, and professor of classical piano Angeline Case-Stott. His reward was being accepted to the Jazz Studies program of the University of Tennessee, where he could continue studying with Brown. Even though Alex received encouragement from Chicago-based notable pianist Willie Pickens to apply to Chicago-area universities, he stayed firm in desiring to study jazz only with Donald Brown. Pickens told him approvingly, “Donald Brown? He’s one of the best!”
Brown became not only his beloved teacher, but his mentor and (with this album) producer as well. After completing four years of Master’s-level study at the University of Tennessee, Nollan relocated to Lubbock, TX to embark on a composing, performing, and recording career. In Lubbock he organized the jazz band The Memphis-Lubbock Underground with bassist Dustin Pedigo and drummer James Pendell. He performs regularly at the restaurant Jazz A Louisiana Kitchen in a duo format with bassist Joe Phea (and sometimes drummer Brian Tate). He travels regularly to Memphis, Knoxville, Houston, and the Alabama Gulf Coast to perform and maintain his musical contacts in those places. Notably, in Houston he works with legendary pianist Bobby Lyle, and in Pensacola performs with jazz masters Steve Gilmore, Bob Maksymkow, and Jim Roebuck. Alex is at work composing and assembling the songs for his second album!
Regular Sunday Night (8-10 p.m.) Performance of
The Nollan-Phea Duo at Jazz A Louisiana Kitchen.
Dates Appear Below!
I've had the pleasure of knowing and teaching Alex Nollan for five years. He continues to amaze me with his creativity as a pianist and composer. I expect to hear great things from Alex!Donald BrownGrammy-Nominee, Composer, Jazz Pianist, Producer
Whenever I have had the pleasure of working with Alex Nollan, either as a student or in playing, I've been amazed at the ear and heart he has for music. His ability to grasp the essence of whatever he is playing, and insert his own unique sensibilities is brilliant! It has been great fun to get a glimpse into this immense talent.Tony ThomasGrammy-award winner, Jazz Pianist, Organist
It gives me genuine pleasure to have found some excellent jazz in Lubbock, Texas. On two recent occasions I attended performances of Alex Nollan at the keyboard and piano, along with two other strong local jazz musicians: bass player Dustin Pedigo and drummer James Pendell. Alex took the lead in the trio, showing that he was knowledgeable and accomplished. While playing many jazz standards, he displayed his skill with his leads and solos. His performance of Keith Jarrett’s “Days and Nights Waiting” was a stand-out. In addition, Alex was able to take on more difficult composers, like Thelonious Monk, with aplomb. I hope he will continue to collaborate with strong jazz artists and help bring great jazz to Lubbock.Meyer GoldbergJazz Enthusiast
The Louise Hopkins Underwood Center for the Arts (LHUCA) was pleased to introduce Alex Nollan to Lubbock audiences at a First Friday Art Trail when he performed on the Reagor Dykes Stage to a large, appreciative audience. We commend Alex’s superb musicianship and are excited about his creation of a new jazz ensemble with James Pendell and Dustin Pedigo. We look forward to their future performances at LHUCA.Jean CaslinExecutive Director of LHUCA
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