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Nick Finzer Quartet

One of My Favorite Cole Porter Compositions...

Today we're featuring an original arrangement of one of my favorite Cole Porter compositions, his tune "What is This Thing Called Love?" Although it's a widely played tune, it has always stuck with me. I think this could be because this tune appears on the first JJ Johnson record that I started listening to when i was first falling in love with jazz - "JJ in Person!" ( which somewhat ironically, indicates on the liner notes of the LP that it was recorded at a live performance in Rochester, NY! Although, the applause may or may not sound dubbed in... I'll let you decide for yourself!). 

I always loved the way JJ augmented the form of a tune by adding introductions and interludes that used material from the tune. I tried to draw from that inspiration by adding both an introduction and interlude, allowing both the drummer and the soloists a moment to step out in front of the band to be featured before the ensemble plays all together. After hearing the recording of this arrangement back, I can't help but to acknowledge the Slide Hampton influence on the presentation of this composition. 

I can't wait to hear what you all think of the arrangement! Please share and leave a comment!

Until next week - be well!

- Nick  

All the Things You Are - New Arrangement!

Today, I'm sharing my version of the Jerome Kern mainstay "All the Things You Are" - a tune well known by just about every jazz musician! 

The tune is a great example of the creative tunes written by Broadway show composers of that time period. Kern uses some slick (but simple!) harmonic devices to slide between key centers while repeating the melodic material between sections, making it sound new, and familiar at the same time. 

I've taken the tune, and added a spin to it by changing the meter into 5/4 and incorporating a new bass line that shifts the feeling of the original harmonies. 

I think a tune like "All the Things You Are" is a great example of the amazing melodic sense of these composers of the early 20th century. Their melodies can be stretched and reharmonized without losing their essence. To me, this is essential to the development of great melodic writing. 

Here you'll hear the always swinging rhythm section of Dave Baron on Bass, Jimmy Macbride on Drums, and Chris Ziemba on piano. Enjoy!

Pop and Jazz, a Marriage since the birth of the Music - Stevie Wonder Cover - Overjoyed

Too many amazing musicians have been leaving us as of late, and it has made me think about trying to show these musicians our love and appreciation while they can still receive it! Most recently we lost the genius of Prince - but another one of the greatest songwriters of the second half of the 20th century is still going strong, and I hope we can continue to appreciate him while he’s still with us! The man I’m talking about is the amazing Stevie Wonder.

The new video for this week features one of my all time Stevie Wonder favorites: “Overjoyed.” I’ve recorded this once before in a duo setting with my good friend and pianist Chris Ziemba. I’ve also played it on tour all over the country in the quartet setting, and it is always a treat to perform. 

In this arrangement I’ve taken the usual format of the song, and put a new spin on it. Changing the meter and adding some additional harmonies, I think this tune translates fantastically across genre boundaries. To me, this song has all the same great melodic qualities of tunes written by the great song writers of the first half the 20th century. Strong melodies and harmonic shapes that lend themselves to be interpreted in a multitude of ways. Stevie Wonder is right up there with Gershwin, Cole Porter, Jerome Kern, etc.

This video features the great musicianship of my longtime collaborators Jimmy Macbride, Chris Ziemba, and Dave Baron. I hope you enjoy!

Let me know what you think of this in the comments, and if you like what you hear, share with your friends! 

Nick Finzer - Songs & Stories Quartet - Maria (Leonard Bernstein) from West Side Story

Maria by Leonard Bernstein; arranged by Nick Finzer

In addition to my band Hear&Now Ive been working on a number of other projects, that not only feature my original music, but some arrangements I’ve done of other peoples music. The concept for my latest quartet project - the Songs & Stories quartet - is to reimagine and recreate some iconic pieces from the jazz repertoire as well as music that has a connection to my life. 

The new video that Im sharing today, features one of these pieces that has been influential on my musical development. This video is an arrangement I did of Leonard Bernsteins composition Maria from the musical West Side Story.

Featuring: Chris Ziemba (piano), Dave Baron (bass) and Jimmy Macbride (drums)

This song has stayed with me since the beginning of my musical upbringing. Some of my earliest memories of elementary school music classes I have include watching the movie version of West Side Story. While I was in middle school, my main focus wasnt actually trombone, but singing. When I was in 7th grade I performed “Maria as part of a musical theatre-themed choir concert. At the time, having a solo piece in the midst of this choir concert seemed like a big deal! And my family remembers it as one of the important moments in my musical beginnings. 

When I was brainstorming repertoire for this new project, I wanted to include music that has a strong personal story connection - and this one certainly has that. There have been a few jazz renditions of this tune (notably by Dave Brubeck and Paul Desmond), but I think we presented a new take on this beautiful song. If you enjoy the video, I hope youll share it with your communities, and be sure to let me know what you think in the comments section! 

Until next time, 

- Nick