The Nice Guy Trio

The Nice Guy Trio


With heart and wit, this stylistically omnivorous improvisational trio features trumpet, accordion and bass, creating playfully virtuosic music influenced by many international folk styles, yet existing outside of any particular style or tradition.


The Nice Guy Trio
Voted “Best Jazz/Blues Band” – ’08 SF Weekly Music Awards!

About the Nice Guy Trio
The Nice Guy Trio is Darren Johnston on trumpet, Rob Reich on accordion, and Daniel Fabricant on bass. With an emphasis on spontaneity, they create a sound that is both intimate and reflective of their contrasting yet complimentary musical backgrounds. In concert they navigate through a uniquely diverse collection of original compositions and songs from folk traditions all around the globe, from jazz to Klezmer to Balkan dance forms, to calypso and beyond.

Founded in 2007, the “Nice Guys” have performed in venues big and small, from local organic gems like Jazz at Chez Hanny and the Café Royale, to classic institutions such as The Great American Music Hall, the Yerba-Buena Garden Festival, and for SF Jazz’s “Summerfest.”

In 2008, the Red Poppy Art House hosted the Nice Guy Trio for a five-month-long residency called the “Root Exchange.” Each month a different collaborative concert was programmed, featuring special guest artists from radically different musical backgrounds, and galvanizing a constant stream of new compositions by members of the trio and by its’ guests. Guests included Sameer Gupta on tabla, Ben Goldberg on clarinet and contra-alto clarinet, John Schott on electric guitar, singer-songwriter Meklit Hadero, David Phillips on pedal steel, Smith Dobson V on both drums and vibraphone, Dina Macabee on violin and Alex Kelley on cello. The series was concluded with a very successful concert presented by Intersection for the Arts at the De Young Museum. Almost all of the guest artists from the series were able to attend, and together they played as one large ensemble as well as in various smaller combinations.

With the help of a generous grant by the “Friends of San Francisco Chamber Music,” 2009 found the Nice Guy Trio committing to a second season of the “Root Exchange,” this time featuring piano innovator Myra Melford, vocalist Katy Stephans, local woodwind heavy-weights Evan Francis and Kasey Knudsen, Balkan music maestro Peter Jaques on clarinet and truba, Dave Mihaly on marimba and drums, Michel Simons on tupan, and Syrian percussion master Faisal Zedan on derbakki and riqq. This series concluded in a similar fashion to the previous years’ at the De Young museum, and featured a new composition by Johnston, featuring the full ensemble and commissioned by the Jazz at Intersection and De Young Museum’s “Cultural Encounters Initiative.”

The Nice Guy Trio’s debut album, “Here Comes… The Nice Guy Trio,” was released in 2009 on San Francisco’s Porto Franco Records, and featured many of the guests from “Root Exchange – Season One.” This recording has received many positive reviews, including an honorable mention in the Village Voice’s “Top Recordings of 2009.”

About Darren Johnston
Since settling in San Francisco in 1997, Canada-born trumpeter Darren Johnston has built a web of alliances, from avant-garde excursions with the likes of the ROVA saxophone quartet and Myra Melford, to straight-ahead jazz outings with the likes of bassist/composer Marcus Shelby. As a bandleader he first made his mark with the United Brassworkers Front, an infamous ensemble with a truly unique take on brass music that released two albums. In '07, Johnston released "Reasons for Moving," which featured Fred Frith and Larry Ochs, and was released on the Not Two label. A new live recording by this ensemble is slated for 2010. In 2008 Johnston was labeled as one of twenty-five “trumpeters of the future” by Downbeat magazine. His critically acclaimed quintet CD on the Clean Feed label recently won four stars by four different critics in that same magazine, which helped to place him in this years “Downbeat Critic’s Poll” for his trumpet playing. This same recording, “The Edge of the Forest”, was listed as a “top ten of ‘09” recording by multiple critics, and given an honorable mention in the Village Voice’s listing of the same name, coming in at number 13.

About Rob Reich
Rob Reich plays accordion, piano, or guitar with Gaucho, The Golden Melody Band, Kally Price, The Trifles, Sean Hayes, and many other Bay Area bands. His expansive musical sensibility is rooted with a firm belief in melody, improvisation, and group play, with particular interest in the idioms of Klezmer, traditional Jazz and Blues, Rock 'n Roll, and various other folk music styles.

About Daniel Fabricant
Bassist Daniel Fabricant grew up in Ashland, Oregon, where he began playing guitar and trumpet in grade school. Since moving to the Bay Area and transitioning to double bass, he has performed as a freelance sideman with Andrea Marcovicci, Mary Wilson, Spencer Day and others. He recently completed his education degree at SFSU and teaches privately as well as classroom general music.

"It's not often you hear a horn player with as much emotional range as Darren Johnston... His songs are full of every type of intonation th


Here Comes The Nice Guy Trio - November 17, 2009

Airplay and live appearances on KQED, KPFA, KCSM. Frequently used as instrumental interludes on NPR's "Fresh Air", "Morning Edition", "All Things Considered."

Set List

The sets are 45 minutes - 1.5 hours depending on number of sets in a show. The repertoire mostly consists of originals by all trio members with some covers of Charles Mingus, Ornette Coleman and other jazz greats.