Nick Finzer: trombone; Lucas Pino: tenor saxophone, bass clarinet; Alex Wintz: guitar; Glenn Zaleski: piano; Dave Baron: bass; Jimmy Macbride: drums.
New York award-winning composer, arranger, and trombonist Nick Finzer, will certainly delight the admirers of both traditional and modern jazz with his new release, Hear & Now, a politically-charged body of work that envisions to make us aware of the turbulent days we’re living in.
To sculpt his third recording as a bandleader and composer, Finzer, who was mentored by the great Steve Turre at Juilliard, reunites the same sextet that appears on his previous album, The Chase (Origin Records, 2014). A blow of fresh air increases the fascination of his inspired new musical creations.
The sonorous spells can be immediately felt in the opening tune, “We The People”, a stylish post-bop pleasure of rare quality and unmitigated class, whose blues connotations and arrangement bring us the best of Turre and Kenny Garrett. Its dimension is expanded with sparkling improvisations by Finzer, pianist Glenn Zaleski, and guitarist Alex Wintz, all of them mesmerizing in their gestures.
Transcendent piano chords give “The Silent One” the epithet of a prayer. Flowing with articulate musicianship, the tune presents a muscled rock guitar comping during Finzer solo, and piano harmonic conduction for Lucas Pino to demonstrate how to make a saxophone solo sound interesting.
The only cover in the recording is Duke Ellington’s lullaby-ish “Single Petal of a Rose”, an homage to Finzer’s key influence, which was melodically co-driven by Pino’s bass clarinet and bundled up in wha-wha effects.
Seated on the bass pedal of Dave Baron and the undeviating drumming of Jimmy MacBride, the clement “Again and Again” shows a perfect understanding between pianist and guitarist who succeed in the articulation of their interventions. All ends up in a dauntless horn-led collective improv.
“Racing to the Bottom”, another post-bop explosion, does what its title calls out. The fast pace allows the soloists to adventure from one extremity of the scale to the other.
Unhurried breezes show up in a quasi-sequential triple dose with the demure “New Beginnings”, a marriage between jazz and avant-pop, “Lullaby for an Old Friend”, written for a friend of the trombonist who passed away, and “Love Wins”, a dainty hymn that celebrates marriage equality.
Superbly produced by Ryan Truesdell (Gil Evans Project), Finzer’s music feels alive, flaring up with color and legitimacy within an assured direction.
Thus, after listening to Hear & Now, it’s no difficult to conclude that Finzer deserves to be known as ‘21st Century’s trombone sensation’.
01 – We The People ► 02 – The Silent One ► 04 – Again and Again