Title – ‘American Nocturnes: Final Days of July’
Artist – John Finbury

For those not in the know, American Nocturnes: Final Days of July, is a new album of original instrumental compositions by Grammy and Latin Grammy-nominated composer John Finbury.

Finbury’s earliest music education and influence came from his father Herb, a musician (violin) and one of the first jazz composition students at the Schillinger School in Boston, which would later become Berklee College Of Music.

In his teenage years, John played rock & roll drums, most notably at the “The Bitter End” in New York City. In college, John studied classical piano and music theory and composition at the Longy School of Music in Cambridge and Boston University.

Produced and arranged by Finbury (an American composer based in Andover, MA), Bob Patton, and co-produced by Emilio D. Miler, American Nocturnes (out now via Green Flash Music) is a collection of eleven evocative pieces that spotlights the composer’s mastery in an intimate setting.

Featuring some rather unorthodox instrumentation, not least a harmonica and an accordion, together with guitar, cello and piano, the album also embraces moments of improvisation amongst the melodic works.

1. ‘Lay Me Down’
2. ‘Final Days of July’
3. ‘Black Tea’
4. ‘Winter Waltz’
5. ‘Fantasma’
6. ‘Halfway There’
7. ‘Waltz for Patty’ (Ensemble)
8. ‘Storybook Ending’
9. ‘I’ll Pray For You’
10. ‘My Hometown’
11. ‘Waltz For Patty’ (Piano)

Opening with the hauntingly melodic ‘Lay Me Down,’ that’s backed by the languid cello gossamer (courtesy of Eugene Friesen) of the title track, which in turn is followed by the gently engaging ‘Black Tea’ and then the upbeat, although still mid-tempo, orchestrated sway of ‘Winter Waltz’ (just close your eyes and instantly you see people joined together, artistically twirling in time to the music).

Next up is the deeply reaching, at times purposely dissonant musical artwork of ‘Fantasma’ which is backed by the politely perky ‘Halfway There,’ the ornately affluent ensemble piece ‘Waltz for Patty,’ and then comes one of my own personal favorites, the delicate ‘Storybook Ending.’

This quite alluring appealing album rounds out with the soulful, harmonica-led ‘I’ll Pray For You’ (featuring Roni Eytan), the stunning accordion work of Vitor Gonçalves on ‘My Hometown,’ and then closes on a solo piano rendition of ‘Waltz for Patty.’

In his own words: “This project is a collection of songs I have composed over the past fifteen years. It is music inspired by my historical listening and piano playing experiences including the Chopin Nocturnes, desert island piano music of unsurpassed beauty.”

“That is what I am after, and why I feature the piano in all the tracks and call the songs Nocturnes. The emotions in this music are strong.”

Tim Ray, John Finbury – piano
Eugene Friesen – cello
Roni Eytan – harmonica
Claudio Ragazzi – guitar
Roberto Cassan, Vitor Gonçalves – accordion
Peter Eldridge – vocalese

Read the original review.