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Building from the Memphis sound . . .

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Musical Biography

Born in Memphis, city of so many rich genres of American music, Alex Nollan from an early age was steeped in the sounds and traditions of classical, rock, soul, and jazz.  His studied at the Rhodes Music Academy, and when 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 racked up 40 hours of recording studio experience at the Leeway Studio and the Charlie Wood Studio in Memphis. The SBA Ensemble landed the 2007 Downbeat Magazine international award for Best Blues/Pop/Rock Band, performing and competing in Chicago, Orlando, and New Orleans.  He began to study regularly with international jazz artist Michael Jefry Stevens.

During his high school and college years Nollan immersed himself in both classical music and jazz, attending operas, ballets, and contemporary music concerts.  In July 2004 he was the personal guest of Alexandre Rachmaninoff, grandson of the famous composer-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.

Nollan 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 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 and gifted educator that he began commuting to Knoxville to take lessons with Brown.  After graduation he studied intensively with pianist and educator Steve Lee, Grammy-winning jazz pianist Tony Thomas, and professor of classical piano Angeline Case-Stott.  He was accepted to the Jazz Studies program of the University of Tennessee, where he continued studying with Brown.  Chicago-based jazz and gospel pianist Willie Pickens supported Nollan’s application to the Jazz program at Northern Illinois University, but Nollan aimed 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 his first album Stand) producer as well.

After three 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. He performed regularly at Jazz A Louisiana Kitchen, Rain Uptown, Brisas Seafood, Funky Door, Texas Tech Club, and the Louise H. Underwood Center for the Arts; his performances included drummer JT Paz and bassist Joe Phea.  During the Covid Pandemic he formed a trio with Paz and Phea called Jazz on the Grass, playing twice a month in outdoor settings.  After returning to Memphis at the end of 2021, Nollan reintegrated himself into the Memphis music scene and on the Alabama Gulf Coast.  In Houston he has studied with legendary pianist Bobby Lyle, and in Pensacola performs with jazz masters Steve Gilmore, Bob Maksymkow, and Jim Roebuck.

In Spring 2023 Alex composed and assembled the songs for his second album, which is produced by Donald Brown and titled Mandatory.  It was recorded at Archer Studio in Memphis, featuring Don Aliquo (saxophone), Neal Bowen (bass), Clifton Brady (saxophone), Charlton Johnson (electric guitar), Renardo Ward (drums), and Johnny Yancey (trumpet and fluegelhorn).  It will be released and celebrated in Fall 2023!


Upcoming Music Activites

September 23, 2023
Biscuits and Jams Restaurant
Nollan-Assad Duo
Bartlett, TN
Fall 2023 (Date TBA)
Memphis Jazz Workshop
Master Class on Composing
Alex Nollan
Memphis, TN
October 7, 2023
Memphis Jazz Workshop
Master Class
Alex Nollan Sextet
Memphis, TN
October 22, 2023
Biscuits and Jams
Nollan-Bowen Duo
Bartlett, TN
November 21, 2023
Villa Castrioti Restaurant
Nollan Jazz Revival
Lakeland, TN
November 25, 2023
Biscuits and Jams
Nollan-Bowen Duo
Bartlett, TN
December 23, 2023
Biscuits and Jams
Nollan-Bowen Duo
Memphis, TN
December 2023 (Date TBA)
Colonial Country Club
Christmas Party
Solo Engagement
Cordova, TN
February 2024 (Date TBA)
Archer Studio Recording Session
Alex Nollan Quartet
Memphis, TN
Summer 2024
Donald Brown Festival (Two-Day Event)
Alex Nollan Septet
Memphis, TN

I was lucky enough to hear the Alex Nollan Quintet live in concert in the Green Room at Crosstown on February 26, 2022. Their artistry and passion made for an unforgettable evening. The jazzy beats were so infectious that some people started dancing during the set! I highly recommend this talented group for small or large gatherings; they would be perfect for special / VIP events.

Vanessa RogersAssociate Professor of Music, Rhodes College

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, 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

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 CaslinFormer Executive Director of Louise Hopkins Underwood Center for the Arts

It gives me genuine pleasure to have found excellent jazz in Lubbock, Texas. On two occasions I attended performances of Alex Nollan at the keyboard and piano, along with two excellent jazz musicians: bass player Dustin Pedigo and drummer James Pendell. While masterfully playing many jazz standards, Alex 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 conveyed the music of more difficult composers, such as Thelonious Monk, with aplomb. I hope he continues to bring great jazz to Lubbock.

Meyer GoldbergJazz Enthusiast

Recent News

March 22, 2021

Winner of Multiple Awards

Alex Nollan won "Honorable Mention" with his original composition "Obligatory" in the Jazz category in the 2020 Unsigned Only Music Competition. The judges received more than 7,000 entries from 109…
October 30, 2017

A Tale of Four Cities: Alex’s First Album

Two years ago Alex began assembling material for his first album.  He wanted it to include collaborations with some of the terrific jazz musicians he had studied or performed with:…
October 30, 2017

The Memphis-Lubbock Underground Trio

Alex Nollan, leader of the ensemble, earned a Bachelor of Arts in Music at Rhodes College in Memphis.  He took Master's level courses in Jazz Studies for four years at…


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