Band Bio:

Inspired by Classic Kung-Fu Movies and the early Hip-Hop movement of the 1970's, Sean Nowell & THE KUNG-FU MASTERS explode onto the scene with Wicked Grooves, Blazing Horns, Acrobatic Breakdancers, Remarkable Kung-Fu Artists, Mind blowing Freestyle Rappers and Live Video Projection to unite humanity through positive expressions of the human spirit with a Multimedia Celebration of Sonic and Physical Movement.


"Breath taking electric jazz/funk"


"Jazz for the rave generation"


"A thrilling acid jazz smackdown"


"An eclectic update on the more cerebral music that emerged from the 1970's"


"Old school tunes with a contemporary twist, the sonic circle being made complete"


"A super sonic stew that really gets the blood flowing"


"Fortified with funk and an undercurrent of articulated syncopation that is somewhat reminiscent of the early days of Chicago."


"The horn section functions together like a modern dance club version of the JBs, nailing tasty riffs into place over the rhythm section"


"Nowell's electro-acoustic creations skirt normal jazz conventions while fully adhering to the core philosophy of jazz as an all-absorbing, ever-evolving entity."


Bruce Lee, Jazz and Hip-Hop: Outlaws of Self Expression

A Multimedia Celebration of Physical and Sonic Movement


Kung-fu/Kungfu or Gung fu/Gongfu is a Chinese term referring to any study, learning, or practice that requires patience, energy, and time to complete. Saxophone Kung-Fu, Breakdance Kung-Fu, Freestyle Rap Kung-Fu, Electric Bass Kung-Fu all come from the same source of learning, patience, and unrelenting energy.  

In the 1970's Kung-Fu Movies made a signficant impact on NYC urban youth culture physically and spiritually. They inspired personal and neighborhood pride as well as positive physical expressions of the human body like Breakdancing.  The central themes of Honor, Respect, Patience and Determination in these films helped reshape urban life and create a structure for continuing growth.  

 Bruce Lee was and still is an icon for social and philosophical change.  His individualism caused significant ripples in the Martial Arts community when he fused different Kung-Fu styles into his vison of what the artform is.  Jazz musicians share the same respect for the past but also feel the necessity for innovation, even if it's not readily accepted by the general public.  

 The Kung-Fu Masters' goal is to unite humanity by combining Martial Arts, Jazz/Funk Music, Breakdancing, Freestyle Rap, Beatboxing and Video Projection of 70's & 80's Kung-Fu Movies, Anime, and Video Games into a Celebration of Sonic and Physical Movement. We uphold the positivity and free self expression

of the 70's Hip-Hop Movement to focus the hearts and minds of today's modern youth by celebrating the differences of our cultures and to facilitate true cultural exchange. With video segues by Bruce Lee speaking about creativity, human potential and the study of craft, The Kung-Fu Masters inspires and delights audiences of all ages and cultures.

 This project has grown and developed in NYC at The 55 Bar, Shapeshifter Lab, Drom and The Bitter End by featuring the most progressive and adventuresome musicians possible and is now reaching out internationally with performances at Universities and Concert Halls in Turkey, Holland, Czech Republic, England and beyond....



About the Composer:

Sean Nowell is a tenor saxophonist and composer from Birmingham, Alabama steeped in the southern traditions of blues, gospel, jazz, and funk fused with the complex harmonic and world rhythmic concepts that permeate the music of New York City. While in Alabama, he sang in cathedrals with a national touring a cappella choir and was exposed to vocal music from Germany, Eastern Europe, and Africa. He received a BA in Composition from Berklee College of Music in Boston in Jazz Composition and a MA from Manhattan School of Music in New York in Performance. 

He has composed and improvised film scores, music for ballet and theatre, 20th century classical music, big band, and small jazz ensembles and has pushed the timbral boundaries of the saxophone by integrating electronic effects pedals. He has traveled and collaborated with dancers, actors, painters, stilt walkers, and acrobats on multiple tours of China, Bulgaria, Kosovo, Macedonia, Bosnia, Serbia, Romania, France, Germany, Hungary, Holland, Belgium, Colombia, Venezuela, Singapore and the United States as Musical Director for Bond Street Theatre over the past decade. He’s participated in helping unite clashing religious and ethnic groups through music in Kosovo and is been proud to have toured for the US State Department in Turkey. 

By exchanging social and artistic ideas with local artists and holding master classes in these countries on American Jazz, by learning the folk music of the regions, and then by incorporating the authentic experience into his compositional and improvisational style, Sean Nowell crosses social and political boarders to spread goodness, truth, and brotherhood through Jazz Music. 

Sean has had performances with Dave Douglas (trumpet, grammy award winner), Rachael Z (pianist, Wayne Shorter), Reeves Gabrels (guitarist, David Bowie), Tim Lefebvre (bass, Rudder, Saturday Night Live, Chris Botti), Donny McCaslin (sax, Dave Douglas), Anton Fig (drums, David Letterman).  He also recorded with Stanley Clarke and George Duke for the movie "Soul Men" starring Bernie Mac and Samuel Jackson and co-wrote the score for the Nick Nolte movie "Off the Black". 

Sean has also been a motivating force in the New York City jazz community by having hosted weekly jazz composers forums in Manhattan and Brooklyn clubs that consistently showcase the freshest and most cutting edge jazz in the city, as well as collaborating and recording with the next generation of jazz, funk, and avant-garde masters. 

His first release, "FIREWERKS", was born from these weekly sessions and has garnered critical acclaim for the band's highly interactive and rhythmically adventuresome approach that got him immediately signed as a Posi-Tone Records Recording Artist.  "Tenor Saxophonist/Composer Sean Nowell fuses introspective melodies, darkly hued harmonies and angular rhythmic structures to create a sound that has succeeded at melding, morphing and mixing the best of Blue Note-era small group nirvana with the Headhunters’ pocket and vibe, evolving it to Right Now.”  “Cerebral music, but played with soul and feeling; ballads that somehow build into frenetic climaxes.”

Every track on his second release for Posi-Tone Records, "THE SEEKER", is an expression of fantastic and dangerous experiences collected over the years of exploring the less traveled corners of the planet and features Dave Eggar on Cello (Evanescence, Michael Brecker, Chris Potter) and Nir Felder on Guitar (Greg Osby). "The Seeker" must be considered a candidate as one of the finest jazz releases of the year." "After getting a copy of this disc it is clearly up for running as a top ten in my collection for 2009."  "Playing with the sophistication of a John Coltrane and the grace of a Lee Konitz, Nowell unfurls the sax for intense tenor work dominating the band and delivering an excellent session of straight ahead contemporary jazz elevating “The Seeker” to an elite category."  "The Seeker's predominant vibe is a modern day re-energization of the East Coast hard bop of the 1950s and 1960s.  The result is a chili-hot stew of galvanizing intensity." 

His third Posi-Tone release, "STOCKHOLM SWINGIN'",  was recorded Live at Glenn Miller Cafe after a 3 week tour with The NYC/Stockholm Jazz Quintet.  It garnered significant critical acclaim including "Jazz Times Top 50 of 2011" The Critics say "Swingin' is definitely the best way to describe Sean Nowell's third album. It's a well balanced and straight-ahead killer set from the Alabama native now New Yorker".  "Establishing himself as a solid performer and laying in a steady stream of clean accessible rhythms in this live setting, makes Stockholm Swingin' an enjoyable listen and enticing venture for every music fan."  "Stretching and flexing notes like Dexter Gordon or Sonny Rollins, Nowell sets a fire in a live session.  " feels like a Kenny Burrell/John Coltrane session or a flavourful early George Benson album."

His critically acclaimed fourth installment for Posi-Tone, “THE KUNG-FU MASTERS” is taking New York audiences by storm with their FX driven jazz/funk that has featured Ari Hoenig, Marko Djordjevic and Cliff Almond on drums / Nir Felder, Al Street, Randy Runyon on Guitar / Art Hirahara, Adam Klipple, Walter Fischbacher, Brian Charette, Isamu McGregor on keys / Janek Gwizdala, Chris Tarry, Panagiotis Andreou, Evan Marien on electric bass / Krussia - Beatbox / Baba Israel and Eternia - MC / Brad Mason and Jeremy Pelt on Trumpet and Alan Ferber, Elliot Mason, Ryan Keberle, Andy Hunter, Mike Dease on Trombone.  "Breath taking electric jazz/funk." "Jazz for the rave generation." "A thrilling acid jazz smackdown". "An eclectic update on the more cerebral music that emerged from the 1970's." "Old school tunes with a contemporary twist, the sonic circle being made complete." "A super sonic stew that really gets the blood flowing." "Fortified with funk and an undercurrent of articulated syncopation that is somewhat reminiscent of the early days of Chicago." "The horn section functions together like a modern dance club version of the JBs, nailing tasty riffs into place over the rhythm section."

Sean is also part of the most creative, forward thinking ensembles in the city including Travis Sullivan’s Bjorkestra (all Bjork jazz-tronica big band) and performs regularly in the top jazz clubs in New York City including the Blue Note, Smalls, The 55 Bar, The Jazz Standard, BB Kings, Birdland, Cleopatra's Needle, the Knitting Factory, and Zebulon as well as international jazz clubs such as Club JZ (Shanghai), CD Jazz (Beijing), Café Plato (Belgrade) and has played the JVC Jazz Festival, the San Francisco Jazz Festival and for 30,000 people at the Montreal Jazz Festival.


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