The trombone's gone through a few good times and a few bad times as a front-line jazz instrument. Thankfully, for all lovers of this particular horn, these times are good times. Nick Finzer is one of the players responsible, a trombonist and writer with flair and variety. The Chase, his second album, helps to ensure that the good times will stick around.
Finzer's a member of Scott Bradlee's Postmodern Jukebox, racking up a few million You Tube hits with the band's trademark reinterpretations of tunes like Radiohead's "Creep" and Bon Jovi's "Livin' On A Prayer." The tunes on The Chase are Finzer originals. Fresh and engaging, they're straight-ahead numbers for the most part, performed by a tight, sympathetic, sextet - with the exception of pianist Glenn Zaleski all of the players also appeared on Finzer's debut album, Exposition (Outside in Music, 2013). Tenor player Lucas Pino's an excellent partner for Finzer. He's credited solely with "saxophone" on the album sleeve, but the rich, woody, tone of the clarinet (and on the melancholy, sweet-natured "Steadfast" the bass clarinet) do seem to put in a few appearances.
Bassist Dave Baron and drummer Jimmy Macbride drive the pace on the up-tempo title track. As the title suggests, this is a fast, racy, tune: Finzer and Pino engage in tight duo playing, guitarist Alex Wintz and Zaleski solo with verve. "Search For A Sunset" is smooth-as-silk romantic. The up-tempo swing of "Just Passed The Horizon" brings it all to a joyous close.
It's the early hours of the morning - a quarter to three, perhaps - Wintz and Pino are absent, the barman wants to go home and the rhythm section is idly jamming in the corner. Finzer's still at the bar, his trombone muted as he takes the lead on "While You're Gone" - a delicious slice of jazz trombone that harks back to Tricky Sam Nanton. There are no words, but Finzer's at his most lyrical, his trombone at its most voice-like as it tells its tale, ably assisted by Zaleski and Baron's empathic solos. It's a fine example of the art of musical storytelling, the communication of emotion and narrative. Yep, good times for the trombone and good times for Finzer.