June 13, 2015: Tribeca Performing Arts Center, New York, NY
June 21, 2015, “Day of Music”, Fullerton, CA
June 26-27, 2015, Vail, CO
August, 2015 (date TBD), Cinnabar Theater, Petaluma, CA
April 24-September 20, 2015, New York, NY
October 3, 2015, Pepperwood Preserve, Santa Rosa, CA
October 22, 2015, Hilton Hotel, Honolulu, HI
November 7, 2015, Jackson Theater, Sonoma Country Day School, Santa Rosa, CA
April 4, 2016, Carnegie Hall, New York, NY
All-Stars: A Film Scoring Debut
Why You Like It: A Dream Book Project
The idea of writing a book on musical taste has been high on Nolan’s priority list for many years, and was developed over years of teaching and speaking, focusing on the rich intersections of music, culture, science, and our physiology. The chance to make this book a reality arose shortly after Nolan was signed to the William Morris Agency as a composer (see the story below on his score for All-Stars); within days, he got a call from his agent, Amos Newman, saying that folks in the New York book publishing office wanted to talk. Fast-forward a few months, and Nolan’s book agent was shopping a proposal to a list of eager publishers. After an intense bit of bidding, the deal went to the great publishing house Macmillan Press—specifically to its imprint Flatiron, named (and located) at the iconic New York building.
At the moment (May 2015), the book—Why You Like It: The Science and Culture of Musical Taste—is about halfway completed, and Nolan is thoroughly enjoying the process. He sees it as a golden opportunity to talk about the full dimension of music, and to share his insights and perspectives on how the nuances and parameters of music interact with our lives and our musical taste. The opening chapter tells the story of Pandora Radio, and the development of the Music Genome Project. This is followed by a detailed, but user-friendly, discussion of the major parameters of music—melody, harmony, rhythm, form, and sound—and how they interact with the music we hear and our musical taste. The book continues with discussions of the relationship between music and science (physics, neuroscience, and cell biology), culture, and psychology—including interviews with dozens of celebrities on the connections between musical taste and personality. It concludes with thoughts on how a deep engagement with our musical taste has the potential to greatly enrich our lives: to make us healthier, happier, and more productive.The book will be published sometime in 2016, and will no doubt be followed by a series of media spots—including TV and print, as well as a myriad of speaking engagements. Should be fun! Stay tuned for updates
All-Stars: A Film Scoring Debut
As noted here in the past, Nolan had long desired to compose music for movies, but had never truly pursued it. That changed last year, culminating with his being signed by the famed William Morris Agency (WME), with Amos Newman (son of Randy), whose other clients include Hans Zimmer. Even with a top agency, however, getting good jobs in this industry without a proven track record can be quite a challenge. As such, the first few films are tough to come by, and very important for both experience and credibility.
For Nolan, that first break was a truly delightful experience—for the hilarious mockumentary All-Stars. The film was written and directed by Lance Kinsey (of Police Academy fame), who also stars in it, along with such great comedic actors as Fred Willard, John Goodman, Richard Kind, Angela Kinsey, and Mike Hagerty. Working with Lance was a terrific experience, as he provided clear guidance on what he wanted, and yet allowed Nolan to fully exercise his creativity. Given the film’s light-hearted story—about a girl’s softball team and the hilarious antics of their parents—the music is not surprisingly fun and light. The styles range from Dixieland to swing to R&B to rock, with a bit a grander “film score” moments. It also includes a big moment rock song, “All Stars With Falling”, which he wrote with Tim Hockenberry—who provides a terrific vocal. Nolan truly had truly a blast working on this project.
Since completing the film, Nolan has had to learn another reality of the film business: the challenge of getting a completed film to “a theater near you.” As the film is an independent (non-Studio) release, Lance needs to land a successful distribution deal to get it out in theaters. The path to that is the film festival route. Happily, All-Stars has been having a terrific go of it, with appearances in nearly a dozen festivals so far across the country: New York, Los Angeles, Newport Beach, Nashville, Napa, Cleveland, Sarasota, etc. Audiences have consistently LOVED the film, helping to garner several awards, most recently the “Best Showcase Feature Film” at the SOHO Film Festival in New York
ESPN’s Documentary on… Nolan?
With the success of Pandora Radio, Nolan has received his fare share of interesting opportunities and inquiries over the years. Among the most surprising and interesting came last year, when Nolan got an email from Stick Figure Productions a documentary film company that had been hired by ESPN and FiveThirtyEight Productions—famed statistician Nate Silver’s entity—to shoot a series of documentary shorts called “The Collectors”, dedicated to various people doing interesting things with data. One of their first films, “The Fight To Save the Honey Bee” even made it to the Sundance Film Festival. And now, they wanted to do a segment on… Nolan!
He met with their lead director, Jamie Schutz, in their Greenwich Village office for a brainstorming session. The two explored various ways to highlight Nolan’s work at Pandora and the Music Genome Project—discussing musical parameters, genres, etc. While interesting, such topics didn’t necessarily make for a compelling documentary. But when Nolan casually mentioned some recent work he’d been doing with the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Hospital, on an algorithm to activate musical content / taste for patients dealing with the effects of cancer treatment (pain, nausea, fatigue, etc.), Jamie immediately said, “That’s it!” The idea was for Nolan to “reverse-engineer” the Music Genome: to study the research literature on music therapy for cancer-treatment ailments, and to identify the musical “genes” that were active in successful studies. With this information, he’d compose an original work, “The Wellness Suite”, record it with top musicians in a studio, and perform it live before three cancer survivors.
The film was shot in Petaluma and New York in late 2014, and released on May 20, 2015. The film is beautifully done, and quite moving. Here is the link: turn up your speakers—and share:
You can also hear the full composition here:
Reminiscing 2: Coming Soon
Back in 2010, Nolan released his first solo piano CD, Reminiscing, containing his unique arrangements of classic rock and pop songs by the Beatles, Bob Dylan, Elton John, John Denver, and others. The CD was originally produced at the request of a fan, and was intended to share with friends and sell at gigs, etc. Surprisingly, though, the CD has had a life of its own—selling nicely at Amazon.com, and being featured on various radio formats, including streaming at Pandora with great frequency (through no doing of his own, he assures you).
With this success, Nolan was convinced, and with support from friends and patrons, to follow Reminiscing with a second solo piano CD—with the original title, Reminiscing 2! The CD will be out in June 2015, and features Nolan’s arrangements on rock classics by the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, David Bowie, Pink Floyd, Neil Young, the Eagles, Elvis Costello, Simon & Garfunkel, the Police, Tears for Fears, Bill Withers, and Bob Dylan. The CD will be made available on all the usual outlets, so stay tuned. Nolan will also follow it up with a series of solo piano concerts in late 2015 and 2016.
You can purchase the first installment, Reminiscing, here:
To hear it on Pandora (www.pandora.com), simply create a “Nolan Gasser” station.