The onset of Nick’s love for jazz came through an exploration of Duke Ellington’s music during his high school years. Tunes like “Harlem Airshaft” and “In a Sentimental Mood” started him on an irreversible musical journey. These experiences culminated in a performance of Elllington’s music as part of the Essentially Ellington Festival hosted by Jazz at Lincoln Center, which ignited Nick’s ambition to move to New York City to play music.
During this time Finzer also came under the tutelage of former Jazz at Lincoln Center Trombonist, Wycliffe Gordon. This relationship developed into a four year commission project in which Gordon wrote four pieces to feature Nick during his undergraduate studies at the Eastman School of Music. While studying at Eastman, Nick was able to play with many musicians who came through Rochester, New York including engagements with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, Walt Weiskopf, John Clayton and Slide Hampton.
Since moving to New York City in 2010, Finzer has completed a Masters Degree from The Juilliard School, shared the stage with the likes of Frank Wess at Dizzy’s Club, Lew Tabackin and Terrell Stafford at The Blue Note, and continues to lead his own bands both around the city and across the country. While at Juilliard Nick had the opportunity to work with many mentors including Frank Kimbrough, Carl Allen, Ray Drummond, and studied under jazz trombone innovator, Steve Turre.
Nick was selected as a finalist in the 2010 International Trombone Association’s Carl Fontana Jazz Trombone Competition and in 2011 was the winner of the Eastern Trombone Workshop National Jazz Trombone Competition, where he performed alongside Jim Pugh, Bill Reichenbach, and Steve Wiest.
Finzer is also a committed educator. In 2012 Nick’s new Non Profit, the Institute for Creative Music won a “Great Classrooms” grant award from the Plum Creek Foundation. Nick currently serves as Co-Artistic Director for the Institute for Creative Music, which is dedicated to the education and dissemination of jazz and creative music across the nation. Since IfCM’s founding in 2011 Nick has lead workshops, masterclasses, and residencies spanning from coast to coast.
Independently, Nick has worked with students from the Eastman School of Music, Penn State, Ithaca College, Gonzaga University, and Eastern Washington University, to name a few. He has also served on the faculty of the Eastman Summer Jazz Camp, and Juilliard Jazz Summer Camps in West Palm Beach, Florida and Ephraim, Utah.
Nick continues to perform, compose, and teach around New York City while maintaining an active touring schedule, and formulating new projects. Finzer is determined to continually develop his artistry from the lineage of the music, while being honest to his musical voice and personality.
Nick was selected as the winner of the 2011 Eastern Trombone Workshop Jazz Trombone competition, culminating with Nick performing with the U.S. Army Blues alongside Steve Wiest, Jim Pugh, and Bill Reichenbach. The year previous, Nick was chosen and performed as a 2010 finalist in the International Trombone Association’s Carl Fontana Jazz Trombone Competition.
A 2009 Alum of the Eastman School of Music with a Bachelors in Jazz and Contemporary Media; Nick had the opportunity to perform with some of the many great musicians and bands that passed through Rochester, New York including The Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, John Clayton, Slide Hampton, Bill Dobbins, Walt Weiskopf, David Gibson, and developed a working relationship with trombonist Wycliffe Gordon. Via the Commission Project, Nick worked with Mr. Gordon to premiere four original pieces (two for sextet and two for big band) between 2005 and 2009 and had the opportunity to combine the experience with workshops for local high school students featuring both Nick and Mr. Gordon.
As a leader, Nick has toured his groups across the United States presenting masterclasses, improvisation workshops, and television, radio, and live performances in Arizona, Delaware, Washington, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and New York.
Nick keeps an active performing schedule as both a sideman and leader around New York, as well as traveling to perform and teach with The Juilliard School and Nick’s own projects.