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Hear And Now

Outside In Music OiM 1701




  1. We The People

  2. The Silent One

  3. Single Petal Of A Rose

  4. Again And Again

  5. Race To The Bottom

  6. New Beginnings

  7. Lullaby For An Old Friend

  8. Dance Of Persistence

  9. Love Wins

    Nick Finzer - Trombone

    Lucas Pino - Tenor sax, bass clarinet

    Alex Wintz - Guitar

    Glenn Zaleski - Piano

    Dave Baron - Bass

    Jimmy McBride - Drums

    Born in Rochester, New York State, in due course Nick Finzer became a student at the Eastman School of Music and subsequently at Juilliard where Steve Turre was a significant influence. Wycliffe Gordon was also a mentor at an early stage, part of a modern lineage on the trombone that goes back to the great J.J. Johnson. There was music in the family, too, his mother Sherry being an internationally recognised flautist. In recent years, since his debut album in 2013, the award-winning Finzer has taken his place in the front rank of new generation trombone players. This is the third CD that his band has released. I had the privilege of reviewing Nick's previous album, The Chase, (2015) and feel that this is even better. This new offering represents musical reflections on the current state of the world, especially in the US. There's a Chinese saying 'May you live in interesting times' and this disc can be seen as Finzer's response to what is happening, a kind of mood music for difficult days. All but one of the tunes here are his own compositions.

    There are several tracks that deserve special mention. The first of these was written by the legendary Duke Ellington, a beacon for Finzer from the beginning of his jazz odyssey, both as a composer and arranger. Single Petal Of A Rose is an exquisite melody, lovingly played by pianist Glenn Zaleski in his solo slot. Bass clarinet and muted trombone play their part in an empathetic treatment of the theme. Such is the quality, it is almost too short. New Beginnings builds steadily into a truly compelling piece where the performances of the band members are excellent all round. Dance Of Persistence is an uptempo swinger, a classic example of straightahead jazz, where Finzer and Pino are a formidable front line, backed by an exemplary rhythm section. Love Wins, meanwhile, is a contemplative ballad, tinged with hope (it was written on the day that the US Supreme Court ruled in favour of marriage equality for same sex couples).

    As for the remaining tracks, all make for good listening. We The People is a confident statement with an edge of urgency. My view that Finzer and Pino mesh particularly well together is amply demonstrated from the off. Again And Again features an imaginative guitar solo from Alex Wintz and a rhythmic drum solo. Finzer uses a cup mute, as he does on two other occasions. The bebopish Race To The Bottom is taken at a lick but along with momentum, control is present throughout. The ensemble sound is impressively cohesive. Lullaby For An Old Friend, dedicated to a friend of Nick's, sadly no longer with us, combines nostalgia for better days with the sadness that attends loss. I was especially impressed by Zaleski at this point but also by Wintz's moving solo on bass. I was a little less taken with The Silent One. Of course, that judgement is tempered by the inevitable comparison made with the rest of the CD. By the way, Finzer's co-producer was Ryan Truesdell, known for his work on such gems as Maria Schneider's The Thompson Fields. It shows.

    As I indicated at the start of this review, Finzer's music on this disc is an artistic contribution to commentary on the political climate of the age. Some of the titles alone convey the kind of message these tunes are meant to give. Along the way, Nick and his fellow musicians have blessed us with nine tracks of accessible jazz of a high order. Needless to say, Finzer adds to his growing reputation as a trombonist and composer.

    James Poore

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