Nick Finzer – Legacy (ENG review)

Outside in Music – Street Date, April 5th 2024
Nick Finzer – Legacy (ENG review)

Here’s an album that I find particularly endearing for several reasons. Nick Finzer is a trombonist of incredible elegance in his interpretations, and with this album, “Legacy,” he brings the work of J.J. Johnson back into the spotlight. The album features longtime members of Johnson’s group, including Renee Rosnes, Rufus Reid, and Lewis Nash. “Legacy” is a joyful celebration of the legendary J.J. Johnson’s centenary by trombonist, composer, and educator Nick Finzer. Known as one of the greatest jazzmen, J.J. Johnson is considered one of the most influential and innovative trombonists in jazz history.
I’m currently very fond of albums like this, especially when they are arranged with great intelligence to bring out the most intense moments of the works, as is the case here. Finzer’s affinity and connection with Johnson run deep, going back over twenty years to when the Rochester-born musician first started playing trombone. With 2024 marking Johnson’s centenary, Finzer took on the responsibility not only to showcase the mastery and lasting impact of trombone playing but also to highlight Johnson’s significance. Finzer succinctly summarizes Johnson’s importance: “Sometimes it’s in the nature of our industry to overlook the trombone, but as my mentor, Steve Turre, has said many times, ‘J.J. Johnson did for the trombone what Charlie Parker did for the saxophone.’ He was a true innovator of his time, and his innovations persisted throughout his life and beyond.”
Indeed, that’s what one feels with this album. The trombone phrases are as captivating as those of Charlie Parker or Dexter Gordon, and when interpreted with such expertise by Nick Finzer, it’s hard not to appreciate this album. The trombone is often an underappreciated instrument that shines within an orchestra, but solo pieces of this caliber are, admittedly, quite rare. The collaboration between the group on “Legacy” was deep and relatively unique, spanning multiple generations. Finzer emphasizes the honor and magnitude of such an opportunity to work with living legends who themselves worked with a predecessor of the importance that preceded them. “It was a new experience for me to develop relationships with jazz legends like these and to work with them on music that holds such a special place in their past,” says Finzer. “It’s amazing to be able to experience the level of musicianship of musicians who have played with your heroes, who not only respect you but are dedicated to bringing your musical vision to life, without sacrificing deep understanding and commitment to the legacy of this music.”
With Finzer’s leadership and expertise, combined with the depth of knowledge and experience of the rhythm trio with Johnson, they brought to life both the music that constitutes his legacy and the music that pays tribute to Johnson’s work. Music as rich as jazz, in which wonderful artists serve as a bridge to the current generations, what more could one ask for? How can one not be happy about it? Indeed, this album is a “must-have” for all the reasons mentioned here, emphasizing Nick Finzer’s great qualities as a performer and arranger.

Thierry De Clemensat
USA correspondent – Paris-Move and ABS magazine
Editor in chief Bayou Blue Radio, Bayou Blue News

PARIS-MOVE, March 14th 2024


To buy this album

Nick Finzer on tour:
March 21st, 2024 – University of North Texas J.J. Johnson Centennial Celebration Concert ft: Nick Finzer, Steve Davis, Rufus Reid, Billy Childs, and the One O’Clock Lab Band
March 23rd, 2024 – J.J. Johnson Centennial at the University of North Texas Jazz Trombone Day featuring Legendary Jazz Trombonist and SNL Band Member) Steve Turre
April 10th – Sam First – Los Angeles, CA
April 11th – University of Arizona Masterclass, Tucson, AZ
April 11th – Century Room – Tucson, AZ
April 13, 2024 – The Nash – Phoenix, AZ with Lewis Nash, Renee Rosnes, Rufus Reid
April 27, 2024 – Side Door Jazz Club – Old Lyme, CT
April 30, 2024 – University of Central Oklahoma Jazz Lab , Edmonds, OK
May 9th, 2024 – Smalls Jazz Club, NY, NY
May 18th, 2024 – Nick Finzer & Rufus Reid discuss JJ Johnson at ISJAC Conference, Nashville, TN
June 1st, 2024 – International Trombone Festival Tribute to JJ Johnson Ft. Wycliffe Gordon, Vincent Gardner, and Nick Finze