Short and Sweet and Hot and Spicy: Straight Talk on “Prim and Primal” from Adam Nolan

With grunts and growls and poppin’ those harmonics, alto/tenor sax player Adam Nolan from Ireland waxes poetic on his new CD called “Prim and Primal” with his trio, comprised of Derek Whyte on bass and Dominic Mullan on drums.

“The Magic Carpet” turns arpeggios inside out while the bass stays strong and true; drums stir, collapse and occasionally spin out of control. Nolan launches into a bop opening on “The Modern Jazz Trio” and bass absolutely grounds it. As the tune turns the corner, it’s all voices on deck con intensidad. This song breathes, rolls and grinds. Always, even in the shortest phrase, the sax is melodic. “Latin Jazz?” has beats that riff off the Latin sound as Whyte’s notes slide up to the stratosphere in a call-and-response with Nolan’s animated imaginings.

Six fresh new tracks that gift the listener with overflowing creativity and an accessible flair. The new CD is out August 19th!

When did you start playing sax?

When I was 14. I’ll be 28 this year. 

When did it become apparent this (sax, or jazz, or music) was going to be your forever path?

Hmmm I’m still tryna figure that one out probably when I was 17 I started to realize I was gonna be a musician for sure 

Why and when did you form this trio?

I formed this particular trio just for this album, this recording was the first time we played together as a trio

How long was “Prim and Primal” in your mind as a seedling before you began writing it?

It’s all improvised but the concepts and thought processes + solo practice building up to the recording session in my mind took a few months, just another phase in the journey to express, each album I’m changing it up so I don’t get bored. This was interesting and demanding because it had two contrasting personalities I had to express so I had some practice days when I was playing really sweet but others when it was wild and explosive. 

What did you like best about producing this CD?

I guess the process is pretty epic. It’s like training for a gladiator battle: all is in one take, so you gotta be ready whether you like it or not. Demanding stuff psychologically but the thrill is serious.


What track is the wildest- the calmest- and how do they form a picture of who you (all 3) are in this work?

“The Kung Fu Master vs. the Ape” has to be the wildest track really showing the album concept! It’s cool and we went for it. It displays both personalities well, I feel. 

“Latin Jazz?” is probably the calmest track. It really shows the elements of Latin jazz and bossa nova style, mixed and transformed into something completely fresh and new. 

What inspires you in the moments that you are improvising?

The energy of the room and mindsets I’m trying to convey along with style and attitude. You’ve gotta unapologetically display your style if you’re playing free jazz 

Are you a fiend on the Circle of Fifths? And, advice for sax newbies?

Hmm sometimes but generally I think more in shape and color, emotion and style. Each note is a doorway into many worlds.

Also – Don’t try and be better than anyone else except yourself, and show the world your own version of creation. Do it do it do it. Go go go! 

How do you feel about the label “free jazz” and how would you characterize this new music?

It’s okay I guess, I think it sounds cooler than jazz by itself. Life Music is what I really think it is but I think that may be a bit cheesy. Primal music but that sounds too much of the organic brain without the spiritual… something that encompasses all the elements of what it means to be human…human music? Hmm… Sapien Sounds??

Are venues opening back up and where do you see your next performances?

Yeah I like playing on the street. But as for a show probably somewhere in Germany and Europe. 

Other comments?

Keep it real and let your ego go, just play like it’s your last show.

For more information visit

Photos courtesy of and with permission of the artist.

© 2021 Debbie Burke


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