“American Nocturnes – Final Days of July,” a new album of original compositions by Grammy and Latin Grammy-nominated composer John Finbury, was released through Green Flash Music on May 1, 2020. Produced and arranged by Finbury, Bob Patton, and co-produced by Emilio D. Miler, American Nocturnes is a collection of ten evocative pieces that spotlight the composer’s mastery in an intimate small ensemble setting.
It may come as a surprise to those familiar with Finbury’s previous releases in the Latin Jazz idiom (including the 2020 Grammy Nominated “Sorte!”), that American Nocturnes is far removed from the stylistic influences that inform John’s recent albums. The absence of percussion instruments gives these performances a more elastic sense of time, while the lyrical qualities of the melodies make the composer’s reference to them as ‘songs’ most suitable.
This is music that crosses genres and defies stylistic boundaries. It is classical and through-composed, yet often leaves space for improvisation, often disguised as development and ornamentation of the melodies. It is music that’s bound to fascinate listeners through a deeply emotional, delightful sway between jazz and chamber music. The instrumentation in this album is also unique, with the core duo of piano and cello joined by guitar, harmonica, and accordion.
John enlisted a number of top-flight musicians to realize his vision for American Nocturnes. Tim Ray is, quite literally, a pianist’s pianist. An NEA grant recipient and Berklee College of Music faculty member, Tim Ray is Tony Bennett’s current musical director and a longtime road companion to Lyle Lovett, Bonnie Raitt, and Jane Siberry. Cellist Eugene Friesen’s vast credits include work with Dave Brubeck, Martin Sexton, Will Ackerman, and the Paul Winter Consort and performances on 4 Grammy-winning recordings. Roni Eytan holds the distinction of being the first harmonica player from the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz Performance. He has toured the world with Danilo Perez, appeared at major venues and international festivals, and shared the stage with renowned musicians including John Patitucci, Brian Blades, Eddie Gomez, Miguel Zenon, and Ben Street. Guitarist Claudio Ragazzi is both a Grammy and Emmy winner and has performed at The Hollywood Bowl and Lincoln Center, and with such legends as Gary Burton, Yo-Yo Ma, Branford Marsalis, and Paquito D’Rivera.
The album is dedicated to Roberto Cassan, a renowned accordionist, composer, and teacher who, within a week of his playing on the sessions, died suddenly in his native Italy. The accordion chair was thereafter occupied by Vitor Gonçalves, who has been featured on NPR’s Jazz Night in America at Lincoln Center, as well as the Newport Jazz Festival and Queen Elizabeth Hall in London. Just last year, Vitor was the recipient of two Grammy nominations: Best Large Jazz Ensemble (with Anat Cohen Tentet), and Best Latin Jazz Album (with John Finbury).
With these somber yet hopeful Nocturnes, Finbury’s music is perhaps the most fitting soundtrack for our time.
Tim Ray – Piano (Tracks1–10)
Eugene Friesen – Cello (Tracks1–10)
RoniEytan – Harmonica(Tracks1,2,5&9)
ClaudioRagazzi – Guitar(Tracks3,4,5,6,8&10)
Roberto Cassan – Accordion (Tracks 1,2,5,7 & 9)
Vitor Gonçalves – Accordion (Tracks 3,6,8 & 10)
Peter Eldridge – Vocalise (Track 5)
John Finbury – Piano (Track 11)
Artist: JOHN FINBURY
Title: AMERICAN NOCTURNES – FINAL DAYS OF JULY Artist Website: www.greenflashmusic.com
Release Date: May 1, 2020
Label: Green Flash Music
Catalog Number: AN-FDOJ
UPC Code: 194491424007
1. Lay Me Down 4:19
2. Final Days Of July 5:46
3. Black Tea 3:55
4. Winter Waltz 3:48
5. Fantasma 4:21
6. Halfway There 3:25
7. Waltz For Patty (Ensemble) 2:14 8. Storybook Ending 4:08
9. I’ll Pray For You 4:16
10. My Hometown 4:43
11. Waltz For Patty (Piano) 2:20
TOTAL TIME: 43:15