Concert Review: Nick Finzer, The Stylistics, The Swooners


Out at Lovin' Cup, the patrons taste their beer, they don't just guzzle it. On Wednesday, February 13, the crowd of beer aficionados shunned the Bud and wrapped their buds around some tasty Smutty Nose treats to the solid strains of some sweet jazz. While all this tasting and testifying was going on, trombonist/composer/Rochester ex-pat Nick Finzer set brassy, icy fire to the bandstand with his quintet. Finzer and his fine five took to the stage and launched head-first into Finzer's own "Alternate Agenda," a snappy modal exploration off his debut, "Exposition," and colored just a wee bit outside the lines, with everyone in the locally assembled group getting a turn with the crayons.

Finzer -- also known for his pedal-enhanced slide wizardry with the Po Boys Brass Band -- is a traditionalist in that he follows in the footsteps of quintets led by the likes of Curtis Fuller and Benny Golson, but also acts as a pioneer by following non-standard arrangements with a dash of impressive dexterity and a smirk. That's how we keep it new, kids.

Friday night was downright regal at The Auditorium Theatre at the 70's Soul Jam starring Philly sensations, The Stylistics. It was a day-glow zoot suit riot and lots of size 14 gals buttered up and shoehorned into size 5 dresses. I swear to God, I saw one cat dressed like a king in all-white fur and platform heels that had goldfish swimming in them.

Though not all original, The Stylistics brought their vocal soul and the house down with the hits like my personal fave, "You Are Everything." I would have loved to have seen the band pull it off street-corner style and a cappella. You know they could.

Later that night, me and my rejuvenated soul made our way back to Lovin' Cup to catch The Swooners as this unassuming trio swung like a junior Rat Pack. The drummer was MIA so the bassist played a box with snares on it as the piano strolled the bottom end. The group swung the standards as if drunk on Slim Gaillard atomic cocktails, digging into Gershwin and Charles, et al.