Nick Finzer's Hear & Now
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Nick Finzer's Hear & Now

New York City, NY | Established. Jan 01, 2010 | INDIE | AFM

New York City, NY | INDIE | AFM
Established on Jan, 2010
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"Revitalizing the Heritage"

Trombonist Nick Finzer, 27, keenly recognizes the ebbs and flows of the jazz idiom. He appreciates its fluidity as pop music melds into the straight ahead language of the jazz legacy. But he’s taken a different road for revitalizing the heritage of jazz for the modern age. “I don’t want to abandon the tradition,” said the tall and slender Finzer, who plays his instrument with a combination of fat-sound power and rich lyricism. “I want to continue to swing, which really wasn’t in the air for my generation. But hip-hop wasn’t part of my influence. I want to keep jazz alive by incorporating sounds and emotions that are part of today.” That flies true on his spirited second album, The Chase (Origin), where swing dominates and his 10 original compositions sway with curves and flow with colors. “All of these songs have a story behind them, and I wanted to capture a specific feeling,” Finzer said. “For my first record [2013’s Exposition], I used a more academic approach, controlling the musicians who played the music. This time, there’s less of me and more of my group. Like Duke Ellington, who wrote with a range of emotions, I write music for the members of the band. That serves the emotion I was going for, and the sessions were more relaxed and free-flowing. The focus was on passion and energy, versus technical execution.”A Rochester, New York, native who went to Eastman School of Music and earned a graduate degree at Juilliard, Finzer was mentored by Wycliffe Gordon, whom he met after hearing him perform as a high school junior. “My mother forced me to go up to him after his concert and introduce myself,” he recalled, sipping a Coke at the Hungarian Pastry Shop in the Morningside Heights neighborhood of upper Manhattan, close to where he has lived since arriving in New York in 2010. “He was friendly and asked me if I had my horn. It was in the car. I remember it was in February when the temperature gets to 10 degrees below zero. So I went out to get my trombone, but I had to wait a while for it to warm up before I could play for him. He was great. He invited me to New York to take lessons and later he wrote music for me and my band. He helped me with my Juilliard audition, and he always comes to my shows and gives me pointers.” A fan of bandleader Maria Schneider’s music, Finzer would sell her namesake orchestra’s CDs at her annual Thanksgiving shows at the Jazz Standard. That’s where he established a friendship with band-leader and arranger Ryan Truesdell, another import-ant figure in his artistic development. “Ryan allowed me the opportunity to play with his band,” Finzer said. “He became another sounding board, and he also opened the door to Gil Evans’ music for me—[showing] how the orchestration has a passion behind it, beyond the notes.”Both of Finzer’s albums feature the same line-up—reedist Lucas Pino, guitarist Alex Wintz, bassist Dave Baron, drummer Jimmy Macbride—with the exception of pianist Glenn Zaleski joining in for The Chase. Some of the more dynamic tunes on the album showcase Finzer with his longtime friend Pino in the front line—doing a trombone-bass clarinet dance through “Search For A Sunset,” weaving bone-sax conversations on the catchy “Spheres Of Influence” and speeding together through the rollicking title track. Finzer points out that the title track was written with Pino in mind. “There are tons of guys who play tenor and bass clarinet, but Lucas adds the color,” he said. “Lucas is someone who pursues the highest level of musicianship, improvisation and harmony. It’s inspiring to see. So this song is about what it takes to pursue music in New York, to pursue the goals and dreams, to pursue the tradition of jazz. It’s a rocky road, traveled at a fast pace with shifts of being uneasy and not settled.”“Nick’s music has really evolved,” said Pino, leader of the unconventional No Net Nonet, which includes Finzer. “He stills works on technique—he’s an excellent trombonist—but the further away we get from school, we are digging deeper into our lives to discover what it means to be an artist. That’s where Nick is. He’s confident being himself musically. He’s taking risks. His compositions are very thoughtful. He’s thinking about the tradition and the art form as well as his colleagues. That motivates me. He forces me to keep pace so I won’t get left behind.”While Finzer is only playing a few dates to support the release of The Chase due to his band members’ busy schedules, he’s not idle. A few days after our conversation, he’s heading to Australia as a sideman with pianist Scott Bradlee’s immensely popular New York-based Postmodern Jukebox show of pop covers performed in a quasi-jazz style. There’s also an increasing demand for pro-grams from the education-based Institute for Creative Music (ifcmusic.org), which Finzer co-founded and for which he serves as artistic director. The institute presents tours and workshops with young musicians to teach them how to improvise, as well as lessons on teamwork and technology. “We focus on improvisation in general with jazz bands, choirs, classical performers, rock bands,” Finzer said. “We teach students how to take it to the next level.”

—Dan Ouellette - Downbeat Magazine


Discography

2013
"Exposition"
Outside in Music

2015
"The Chase"
Origin Records

2017
"Hear & Now" 
Outside in Music

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Bio

NICK FINZER...

...is one of the most dynamic musicians of the millennial generation. 

An award-winning composer, arranger, and trombonist, Finzer is bringing the joy and power of Jazz to both traditional fans and the most modern 21st century audiences. He’s on a mission to be a passionate voice defining the sound of Jazz in this age while also bringing street cred to the trombone with a bold, tight sound. 

Born into the musical world (Mom Sherry Finzer is an international flutist), Finzer developed a fascination for the music of Duke Ellington and found himself, in high school, performing at the annual Essentially Ellington competition of Jazz at Lincoln Center. It was then that he decided to pursue a life in music himself. His budding talent was recognized by Wycliffe Gordon who began a life-long mentorship by writing four pieces for the young Finzer while he attended the Eastman School of Music. Nick went on to get his masters at Juilliard’s prestigious Jazz program where he was mentored by the trombone legend Steve Turre

In 2011 Nick was the winner of the Eastern Trombone Workshop’s National Jazz Trombone Competition and was a finalist in the 2010 International Trombone Association’s Carl Fontana Jazz Trombone Competition

In January of 2013 Nick released his recording debut as a bandleader and composer with “Exposition” (Outside In Music). Two tracks appearing on the album garnered Finzer a pair of accolades: The prestigious American Society of Composers and Performers (ASCAP)’s Herb Alpert Award for young composers (2013 & 2015) 

In 2014, Nick composed a new album-length work, “The Chase.” Nick's sophomore album debuted in July of 2015 on Origin Records to rave reviews, a feature article in Downbeat Magazine, and peaked at #6 on the JazzWeek Charts. 

Famed trombonist and mentor Wycliffe Gordon called Finzer “a new voice [in] the pantheon of upcoming trombone greats in the making” and added “Nick's CD is a glowing example of things to come.” 

When away from NYC, Finzer can be found touring the globe not only with his own projects, but as part of YouTube sensation, Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox. Finzer has joined the group on television, in viral videos with millions of views, and on tours across North America, Australia, New Zealand and Europe.  

Finzer has performed at top Jazz clubs and concert halls with Wynton Marsalis’ Jazz at Lincoln Center OrchestraLucas Pino’s No Net NonetRyan Truesdell's Gil Evans ProjectBob Stewart’s Double QuartetFrank WessTerrell StaffordLewis Nash, the Tommy Dorsey OrchestraWalt WeiskopfSlide Hampton, Frank Kimbrough, Carl Allen, Steve Turre and many more. 

Band Members