, Nick Finzer's latest release, features the up-and-coming New York trombonist's finest playing and creative composition. The album displays a wide breadth of stylistic influences and a searching, pining quality in both writing and improvising.
"Life Happens," the opening track, has a driving, intense quality, though it has the same small problem that a few of the other selections have; it should continue a bit longer and allow the soloists to stretch out a bit more. "Spheres of Influence" takes its time, and the band explores the Afro-Cuban 6/8 feel from as many angles as possible in such a short space.
Finzer's playing on "All Hype" displays both his technical mastery of the trombone as well as creative and lyrical playing. The unison melody at the top provides a warm texture, especially with the trombone and guitar doubled in the same octave. Finzer could stretch a bit longer in the solo but says everything he needs to within it. Pianist Glenn Zaleski deserves special mention here for an excellent and creative solo.
The introspective "Steadfast" certainly has a story to tell, told by a dialogue between bass clarinet and bucket-muted trombone. Finzer's solo develops and captures the attention of the listener, and the modern, straight-eight feel seems perfect for melodic development. The understated rhythm section, Jimmy Macbride on drums in particular, puts the icing on the proverbial cake.
"The Chase" is the album's title track for a reason. Not only is the tempo torrid, but the writing si unique, from burning straight-ahead, metrically modulation into an almost Afro-Cuban 12/8 seemingly at will. Lines are anywhere from angular stabs to weeping sighs. Acceptance" is a more low-key affair and is a modern take on the jazz waltz. Finzer's playing on "While You're Gone" recalls Al Grey's beautiful plunger/pixie mute voice, extended in the same manner of Steve Turre. The band plays wonderfully throughout, and the texture is the perfect vehicle for Dave Baron's expressive bass solo.
Subtle meter changes and metric modulations are a common theme in Finzer's writing, and "Why Aren't You Excited?" is no exception: six, five, and twelve (four) all make an appearance, but it's all done subtly. The writing is particularly impressive, and the counterpoint here makes the ensemble sound larger than it really is. "Search for a Sunset" wanders a bit more than the other tracks but recalls the diffuse textures of classic ECM recordings. The final track, "Just Passed the Horizon," is a hard-bop, high-energy closer. Inspired solos from Finzer and guitarist Alex Wintz provide an exciting send-off.
is a marvelous showcase for Nick Finzer's compositions and playing, and equal credit should go to the fine ensemble Finzer assembled for this recording. The Chase
will make a very nice addition to the aficionado's library.