Viewing entries tagged
Jazz

Pannonica Featuring Or Bareket!

One of my all time favorite album’s has got to be Chick Corea’s “Now He Sings, Now He Sobs”  - an amazing adventure from start to finish. It’s an exploration of the lines between playing “inside” the form of a tune, and going beyond. On the reissue of the original LP onto CD, there are a few tunes not included on the initial release. One of those tunes is Thelonious Monk’s “Pannonica.” 

 

Chick’s version was the first version that I listened to, and compared to the original, it’s a bit more up-tempo than the original version by Monk. In that spirit, I wanted to record this with a bassist who I knew had all the virtuosity of Miroslav Vitous (who appears on “Now He Sings, Now He Sobs” - Or Bareket! Or and I have recorded a few videos together now, you can check them out here.

 

The tune has a bunch of harmonic twists and turns, and goes to some unexpected places, which makes it a lot of fun to improvise over. I hope you’ll check out some other versions of this tune, and maybe even add it to your repertoire! 

Comment

A Letter of Thanks to my Students

A little context: As you may be aware, Since August of 2014 I have been serving as a Visiting Assistant Professor of Jazz Trombone at Florida State University’s College of Music. An opportunity that for me, seemed to come out of nowhere. It came to be as a product of being prepared at the right time. I was in this position for the past two school years leading the school’s second big band, a graduate level improvisation class, teaching private lessons in trombone and composition, and coaching a small ensemble. I did this all while keeping up an active touring schedule, leading my own band, teaching in New York, working as a sideman in the city, and even subbing on the occasional broadway show. Although I’ve decided to continue to focus on my performing career, I’m very glad to have had the opportunity to work with the students at FSU. I think that I learned as much or more teaching them, than they learned from me! I’m proud of the work my ensembles put in every semester, reaching into parts of their musicianship I’m not sure they knew were there. We explored the depth and breadth of the jazz tradition with an ear towards the future, keeping tabs on what is happening on the scene today in addition to being attuned to the history of this music. 

Comment

Comment

The Ten Year Suite - Origins, Stories, and Music

Today I’m posting the conclusory movement to my “Ten Year Suite.” I thought it would be a nice time to share a few things about the piece, where it came from, who played on it, provide a home for all of the movements of the suite, and talk about what comes next.

Watch the piece in it’s entirety here:

A little bit of context...

I’ve always been a fan of large ensemble music in the jazz setting. My first love in jazz was Duke Ellington. Not only for his compositional sense, but his orchestrational mastery. Duke could get so many colors out of his band! Not to mention making musical decisions based on the personalities of the members of his orchestra... Something unique that I have always liked about Duke is that he would compose suites (meaning a series of related compositions that make up parts of a larger whole). The Far East Suite, the New Orleans Suite, the Such Sweet Thunder Suite, Ellington’s arrangement of The Nutcracker Suite, and the Queen’s Suite are some of my favorites and I’ve had the opportunity to perform many of these throughout my collegiate studies and with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra on tour. For me, I think that writing and organizing music in this more long form way, allows the composer to tell a broader and in many ways more detailed story. 

In combination with these Ellington influences, I began to check out some extended works by Wynton Marsalis and others who share in that same story-telling aesthetic by writing multi-movement pieces. The orchestration and combination of instruments in medium size groups like Michael Brecker’s Quindectet, Pat Metheny’s The Way Up, and Gil Evans’ wide-ranging ensembles proved to be equally influential in my development of this piece. While I was at Eastman, I had the pleasure of playing weekly in the band of a fantastic Rochester based composer: Dave Rivello. His band was comprised of 12 musicians: six brass, three reeds, and rhythm section. This band was another example of masterful orchestration, and the complex and individual search for colors within the realm of jazz composition and orchestration. During much of the time I’ve been in New York, I’ve also had the pleasure to play in a fantastic Nonet led by composer and amazing tenor saxophonist Lucas Pino. We’ve had a monthly residency at Smalls Jazz Club for about the last three years, and this band is another example of a composer writing for personalities, not just instruments. 

All of this coalesced at a time after I had finished writing my first two albums for my six piece band (2013’s Exposition and 2015’s The Chase) and wanting to challenge my creativity to write for a new and different ensemble. I decided I wanted to explore a new direction for my music, try a larger ensemble, and involve some instruments that I don’t normally have the opportunity to perform with. Around this time II also received a commission from a New York based non-profit that I’m involved with called the Institute for Creative Music. And the “Ten Year Suite” was born...

The story behind the suite...

The “Ten Year Suite” is a reflection of, and a story about, life and relationships. The piece was born in the summer and fall of 2014, a time when I was realizing that I had been invested in a life in music since 2004 (the beginning of my final year of high school) and there was a lot that had happened in the interim. Many musical relationships had been made, friendships formed and lost, and an ever evolving complex relationship with family as one “grows up" and moves away. 

The piece began as a collection of just a few notes, that expanded (or perhaps exploded is a better word) into the basis for all of the music found in the suite. Here you can see that initial brainstorm:

In life, it seems like people, places, memories, and relationships are all tied up within one another. Often I’m unable to separate one from the others totally. Everything is interconnected! You never know what cursory event might lead to extraordinary things in the future. These movements also reflect the complex nature of our lives and memories.

The Movements...

I - Re:Connection

It isn’t always at first glance that we realize the importance of someone entering our life. Sometimes it isn’t until much later that we realize the impact that person had on us. This could be a friend, a co-worker, peer, anyone really. From this point of realization we’re then set upon a journey to try and encourage this person to re-enter our lives. These days (especially for my generation) our main forms of connection are digital. For better or worse, we often hide behind the convenience and anonymity that digital communication offers, even when we are trying to connect in a meaningful way. Hence, the double meaning found in the title “Re:Connection.” 

II - Middle Distance

Whether it’s a long distance, short distance, or a middle distance, physical space between the past and present always create obstacles. Being apart from family and friends is bittersweet. You’re now open to new relationships that will allow you to grow and develop as a person in a new context. But we often long for the familiarity and comfort that our childhood home and friends provide. For me, I’ve often been trapped in a kind of middle distance between new and old, here and there. This movement aims to capture that bittersweet tug of war between the past and the present.

III - Changing Times

Everyone can relate. You never really know the exact path you’ll follow in life. Even when things seem laid out clearly in front of you, the exact path becomes twisted and windy. But it is these unexpected struggles and detours that end up shaping us into who we need to be to deal with the situations that shall arise further down the path of our life’s journey. This movement is a development of ideas moving from a representation of the “simple”/“sheltered” world of academia, and transitioning into the professional spotlight. 

IV - Are You Sure? 

Our internal self-doubt pops up at the worst times. It is this feeling that can sometimes prevent us from taking action on the goals that matter to us most. This recurring feeling creeps into all of our subconscious at one time or another. This movement is really a representation of that feeling, what it might sound like to be trapped within the reeling mind of someone battling against this doubt to realize their artistic visions/goals. 

V - Sun in Your Eyes

The sun is a symbol in so many ways. It provides life. Its path through the sky presents ideas of the cyclic nature of life. It lights our way. We miss it in the darkness. It lights the faces of those we love in a beautiful, warm, and enchanting way. But if we look straight into it, it seers into our eyes. Looking into the sun is not a pleasant experience. This piece represents the duality of symbols in our lives. Sometimes the very things we seek are the ones that cause us the most displeasure in the process.

VI - The Indefinite Road Ahead

No one really knows what lies ahead. Anything might happen. Good, bad, or neutral, at any time. But we must move forward. Always move ahead. And with conviction. 

VII - Never Enough (Time) 

For me, this piece represents the idea of having presence in the present moment. I tend to be one to look into the future, to plan incessantly. But, if we don’t take the time to be grateful and humbled by the moment that we’re in, how can we be happy? There is never enough time to do everything that we want to do and everyone’s time in this life is finite. This is me trying to stop, and “smell the roses."

Featuring….

All of the guys involved in this project are amazing, and have many of their own projects WELL worth your time to investigate! You can check out their projects by clicking on their name below: 

Michael Thomas - Alto Saxophone

Chad Lefkowitz-Brown - Tenor Saxophone

Andrew Gutauskus - Bass Clarinet

Mat Jodrell - Trumpet

Andrew Renfroe - Guitar

Steven Feifke - Synth

Dave Baron - Bass

Chris Ziemba - Piano

Bryan Carter - Drums

What’s Next? 

Playing music for this mid-size “chamber jazz” type ensemble has been some of the most rewarding playing that I’ve done in my life, and I’ve wanted to share this music with more musicians that just the few who were involved in the New York City premiere. I’ve shared this music in a few other places since this February 2015 performance. In May of 2015 the Institute for Creative Music presented the “Ten Year Suite” as part of their “Jazz is Ugly; Jazz is Beautiful” festival in Rochester, NY. And I presented it again in April of 2015 at Florida State University’s College of Music with a new student “Chamber Jazz Ensemble”. Sharing the story of the music, and sharing the music itself has been a real pleasure. For me it has been a large undertaking to develop and execute this project - but I can’t wait to do it again! I’m booking some additional performances for the ensemble for the summer of 2016 and beyond, and hope to share the piece with more student “Chamber Jazz” type groups in the future! 

If you want to bring the “Ten Year Suite” to your town or school, please send a message to my Booking Agent via: info@outsideinmusic.com

 

- Nick

Comment

Comment

April Free Jazz Arrangement - Freight Trane for Octet

April's Free Jazz Arrangement: Freight Trane by Kenny Burrell

This month's free arrangement is an octet version of guitarist Kenny Burrell's "Freight Trane" from the record he did with John Coltrane. This tune is an Ab "Bird Blues".

The arrangement features the melody, a soli for the ensemble, and solo section with backgrounds.

Scored for 5 horns and Rhythm:
Alto
Tenor
Bari
Trumpet
Trombone
Piano
Bass
Drums

Download the arrangement for free HERE!

I hope you can check it out! Let me know if you decide to use the arrangement - I'd love to hear the performance!

- Nick

Comment

Comment

Solo Jazz Trombone Videos - Started this week!

Greetings All!

I wanted to take a chance to share with everyone, my latest project! I've started a YouTube video series that will feature some solo trombone arrangements of some of my favorite tunes from jazz composers.

The first one features a composition by the great JJ Johnson, his tune

Judy

.

Judy

 was originally recorded by JJ along with Kai Winding on "The Great Kai and JJ" released on Impulse! in 1961.

The arrangement is pretty simple - and opening melodic statement followed by a few improvised choruses and the melody restated. Hope you enjoy! Please do leave feedback in the comments section of the YouTube video, and subscribe to the channel to see the next video!

See ya next time! Happy Superbowl Sunday!

- Nick

Comment

Comment

Free Jazz Arrangements for 2014! January: Triste

For 2014, I've decided to post a new arrangement to my online store each month - free! Feel free to share and perform with school ensembles, bands you play with, or just to read through.

January's arrangement is an octet arrangement of Antonio Carlos Jobim's great piece "Triste".

Vist: https://nickfinzer.storenvy.com  to download today! After February 1st it won't be free...! Let me know what you think about it by dropping me a line at nick@nickfinzermusic.com or leaving a note on my FB page.

Here's some more about this month's arrangement:

Difficulty: Intermediate
Instrumentation:
Alto Saxophone
Tenor Saxophone
Trumpet
Trombone
Guitar
Piano
Bass
Drums
Description:
This octet arrangement of Antonio Carlos Jobim’s “Triste" was originally written for the Jazz Standard Youth Orchestra in New York City for one of their weekly performances. This arrangement features the lead voice as the trumpet, with solos for any instrument, and a shout chorus that trades with the drummer. This arrangement includes full score plus eight parts, provided in .PDF format.
Performance Notes:
This tune is in the traditional Bossa Nova style from Brazil made popular first in New York by jazz musicians like Stan Getz. Be sure to check out some of the original recordings that feature the composer Antonio Carlos Jobim on piano (both instrumental and vocal versions). The intro layers in starting with the rhythm section and then adds in the horns.This intro should grow gradually into the first opening statement of the melody at letter B. Each repeat should be played twice (i.e. as written). The form of the song is all of letter B,C, and D (the form of the sections is ABAC with a tag), the first time is the statement of the melody and then opens up into solos. Each part has chord changes, so anyone who wants to can improvise! Measure 43 is cued after solos are finished (marked “After Solos”), ensemble should play strong to send off each drum solo section. At the conclusion of letter F (end of measure 76) D.S. back to letter C (measure 9). Play letter C as before for the recapitulation of the melody, and go directly to the CODA at the end of measure 40. The Coda should be played as written, with diminuendo. The last chord should come in strong, drums be sure to set it up. Be sure to attend to the detail of phrasing each ensemble passage together, minding articulations and making a dynamic statement with each phrase!

Hope you enjoy this arrangement! Questions? Email Nick at nick@nickfinzermusic.com

Want help with this? Contact Nick to schedule a consultation or in person session - nick@nickfinzermusic.com

For more arrangements visit Nick’s online store at www.nickfinzermusic.com

Comment

Comment

Fall is here - busy, busy, busy!

Greetings all!

I hope the start of the new school year is treating everyone well! I know it's been a busy fall so far here in New York!

I'm excited to get underway once again this year with the Jazz Standard Youth Orchestra! The second week of auditions are this weekend October 13th and the season kicks off promptly October 20th! This is a free program for students in middle and high school - please send interested students our way! It's an amazing opportunity to perform each week at the Jazz Standard! Not to mention all of the amazing guest artists David O'Rourke brings in!

This fall has also given me the opportunity to share the music from my January release Exposition with Arizona! I will be at the Nash in Phoenix on Saturday October 26th, giving a master class the day before at Arizona state university, and on Sunday I'll be a guest of the Tucson Jazz Institute! Can't wait for these performances!

Additionally I'll be able to present my own groups in the coming months here in New York! November 3rd we return to The National for "The National Sessions", and my trio with Jimmy Macbride and Clovis Nicolas will be back at the Bar Next Door on December 2nd!

The Institute for Creative Music makes it's return to Montana this November thanks to another grant award from the plum creek foundation, from the 17th - 24th, this time in Missoula! The week prior, November 11-16th the Ifcm will be I residence in Buffalo and Rochester. Really looking forward to expanding on the programming we began last year!

Whew! And last but not least I am excited to share with you all that I am a video blogger for the new website by the Eastman school of Music's Institute for Music Leadership, polyphonic.org.  We are three posts in so far, and can't wait to continue this collaboration! You can check out the videos at polyphonic.org and by subscribing to my YouTube channel at YouTube.com/nickfinzer


A lot of news to share! And more to come I'm sure!

Thanks for supporting the music, looking forward to seeing some of you out at some gigs!

Until next time,

             -  Nick


Comment

Comment

Exposition - Continued...

Hey All!

I'm excited to say that since Exposition's release back on January 22nd, it has been in the top 50 of the JazzWeek charts for the past five consecutive weeks! Mitchell Feldman of MFA has been hard at work spreading the good word about my release, and I'm very glad for the results.

In other news, I recorded an interview with Joe Dimino of Neon Jazz radio in Kansas City two weeks ago! Really enjoyed talking to Joe about Exposition, you can check it out here.

Moving forward I am pleased to have three upcoming dates to celebrate the music from Exposition!

First is next Sunday - March 24 at ShapeShifter Lab at 7PM on a double bill with Lucas Pino and his No Net Nonet. More details HERE.

April 7th will bring my group back to The National for their National Sessions for the first time since the album release show at the beginning of February. We'll play 6-10PM and it is free! (50th and Lexington in Manhattan)

Third is another exciting gig, my first gig at the Bar Next Door in the Village. I'll be performing as part of the Emerging Artist Series on Thursday April 18th - 630PM!

Thanks again for your continued support! Hope to see you at one of the upcoming gigs!

 - Nick

Comment

Comment

Exposition Released Today!

Nick's Debut Album Exposition is Released Today!

Greetings Friends, Fans, and Family,

Happy New Year! I hope your year is off to a great start. Things are picking up for me here in New York, and today is especially exciting. Today marks the release of my first album as a leader, Exposition. I couldn't be happier with how it turned out, and I hope you all will be too.

The band features some great colleagues that I attended The Juilliard School with:
Lucas Pino - Tenor Saxophone
Alex Wintz - Guitar
Samora Pinderhughes - Piano
Dave Baron - Bass
Jimmy Macbride - Drums

This release marks the culmination of this project which started in April of 2012 with a Kickstarter campaign. Thank you again, to all of the people who backed the project! The success of that Kickstarter campaign really got the ball rolling. Thank you backers! There is a great Video Preview of Exposition by Marie LeClaire on YouTube HERE.


Starting today, you will be able to find Exposition for sale online at CDBaby.comiTunesAmazon, and some limited edition copies for sale through the online store on my website. It will also be available to stream on services like Pandora and Spotify. Please visit my website at www.nickfinzermusic.com for links to these retailers.

I will be celebrating the release of Exposition with two official CD release events. Here in NYC it will be held Sunday, February 10th at The National, and a two part CD Release event in Rochester on Wednesday February 13th. See the listing information below:

NYC Release:

Sunday, February 10th, 2013
The National (50th St and Lexington Ave)
Sets at 7 & 830PM
No Cover Charge or Minimum

Rochester Release:

Part I
Wednesday, February 13th, 2013
Live Radio Broadcast at Jazz 90.1 FM (Online stream available worldwide at www.jazz901.org)
7 - 8PM
Featuring compositions commissioned through Exposition's Kickstarter Campaign. 

Part II
930PM
Lovin' Cup
300 Park Pointe Dr.
Rochester, NY 14623
$5 Cover

I certainly hope you might be able to join us for one of these performances! You can connect to the official facebook event pages by clicking HERE for NYC or HERE for ROCHESTER

New Gigs of Note:
Sunday March 24th at Shapeshifter Lab - Double Bill with Lucas Pino's No Net Nonet
Thursday April 11th at Bar Next Door Emerging Artist Series - with Dave Baron and Jimmy Macbride


Thank you all for taking the time to read this note, and for your continued interest in me and my music! 

Best wishes for a prosperous 2013!

- Nick

Comment

Comment

Montana and Washington, November 2012


Wow! What a great 10 days. I just concluded a whirlwind tour of Northwestern Montana and Eastern Washington, with my non-profit: The Institute for Creative Music. Last summer, my drummer friend Chris Teal and I decided to put our heads together to formalize some of the educational clinics/touring that we had done between 2007 and 2010 and the Institute for Creative Music was born!  You can check out the IfCM at www.ifcmusic.org

Thanks to a generous grant from the Plum Creek Foundation, we were enabled to travel to Kalispell, Montana and work with five high schools there, as well as with the surrounding music community. We presented workshops, clinics, and performances for almost 1400 students, and taught for a combined total of 37.4 hours! We had two appearances in the local papers (with a third on the way), and a big hit was of course, free IfCM stickers! After our time in Montana, we traveled west to Spokane, WA (Chris’ hometown) and had a day of whirlwind visits to Mt. Spokane HS, Eastern Washington University, and Whitworth University. It was a productive tour for sure!

It is an amazing thing to spend time with energetic and passionate music students. Their energy and willingness to try new things (even if they are foreign or challenging) is truly inspiring. We worked with concert bands, orchestras, jazz combos, big bands, and choirs. Each and every one of the students we worked with was improvising and participating in creative music making.

Spending time teaching with the co-director of IfCM Chris Teal, and our teaching artists: Mike Kaupa (trumpet), Chris Ziemba (piano), and Matthew Golombisky (bass) was a real treat. We are excited to be moving ahead with a number of projects to continue the momentum that was started this past week!

Comment