Nickel & Brass Septet Releases Debut CD "Four-Color Heroes!"


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Nickel & Brass Septet
The Nickel and Brass Septet's debut CD Four-Color Heroes! presents new music for improvising ensemble by composer and guitarist Andrew Boscardin. The music combines elements of jazz, rock and new music and is performed by some of the finest players in the Seattle jazz and improvised music scene. Along with Boscardin on guitar, the CD features Chris Stover on trombone, Clark Gibson on sax, Tom Varner on French horn, Ben Thomas on piano, Jon Hamar on bass, and Brad Gibson on drums.

The songs on Four-Color Heroes! are dedicated to, and take inspiration from, artists and writers of comic books from the 1960’s and 1970’s. It is a fitting tribute to the talent and creativity of these creators that the characters and ideas developed during this period remain so prominent and beloved today. It is also very telling that despite spending millions of dollars, casting the biggest stars and utilizing the best technology, efforts to bring these stories to life on the big and small screen remain a mere shadow of their presence on the printed page. With pen and ink and four colors at their disposal, these artists and writers created worlds of imagination that no photographic or computer-generated image could hope to capture.

“I didn’t set out to write a bunch of music about comic books, “ Boscardin says, “but while the music for this band was being written I was reacquainting myself with some of my favorite comics of all time and they just kind of seeped in there. I didn’t even know it was happening until it was brought to my attention that much of my recent writing sounded ‘heroic’ and ‘positive.’ Before I knew it, I had a suite of songs about some of my comic book heroes. “

Composer and Guitarist Andrew Boscardin has been performing and writing music for over 20 years. He has appeared on stage with numerous musicians including Tom Varner, Chris Stover, Mack Grout, Jovino Santos-Neto, Julian Priester, Karl Latham, John Lee, Ben Thomas, Brad Gibson, Jon Hamar, Chuck Deardorf, Clark Gibson, Rachael Contorer and the Jim Knapp Orchestra. In June 2008, the premiere of works for his new Nickel and Brass Septet was the recipient of a smART venture award from the City of Seattle Office of Arts and Cultural Affairs. This septet’s first CD, “Four-Color Heroes!” is scheduled for release in February 2009.

In addition to his work as a bandleader, Boscardin has contributed music for dance, stage, and film, both as a composer and performer. His film work include scores for the short films “Murder”, “Enlightened”, and most recently, “The Marthas” and “Times Like These” for Bay Area director Rick Bosner, with whom he continues to collaborate. Boscardin has studied with Dave Peterson, Jim Knapp, Hummie Mann, Glenn Alexander, and John Yannelli. He is a graduate of Sarah Lawrence College in New York, where he studied composition and electronic music and performed in the school's Improvisation and Guitar Ensemble, and of Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle, where he majored in jazz guitar performance.

Born in New Jersey on June 17, 1957, Tom Varner has distinguished himself as both the foremost jazz French horn player of his generation and also as a highly creative arranger breaking new ground in small-group jazz. Influenced on his instrument by the great Julius Watkins (with whom he studied privately), Varner got a degree from the New England Conservatory, where he studied with Ran Blake, George Russell, and Jaki Byard, which helps explain his music's eclectic character, which thrives on stylistic crossbreeding. As a sideman he has performed and recorded with, among others, Steve Lacy, Dave Liebman, George Gruntz, John Zorn, Bobby Watson, LaMonte Young, and Miles Davis with Quincy Jones at Montreux '91, appearing on over 50 albums. He has received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and was a Down Beat Critics Poll Top Ten in 1983 and 1998 to 2006 and pollwinner in Jazz Times.

Seattle-based musician Chris Stover is quickly becoming known as one of the most innovative trombonists and composers on the creative music scene today. He leads the exciting quintet More Zero as well as the Chris Stover Quartet and the twelve-piece Acquired Involuntary Narcissism, he performs regularly with Frieze of Life, Sonando, the James Knapp Orchestra, Quake, Quasi Nada, and many others, and he has toured in the US, Canada, South America, Europe, and Africa with, among others, Pablo Moses and Apple Gabriel. Chris appears on over thirty recordings, and his compositions have been performed in the US, Europe, and Japan. He is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music and is currently finishing his PhD in music theory at the University of Washington. In addition to a thorough background in jazz and classical music he has studied the music of Brazil, Cuba, and Zimbabwe extensively, and much of his music reflects these musical influences.

Jon Hamar is a versatile artist who’s ability to find a tasteful, unique voice in any musical situation has made him a staple in the Northwest music scene. Hamar’s friendly nature, sense of humor and work ethic has kept him busy as a freelance bassist in multiple genres, composer and educator.

In addition to his role as a leader, since moving to Seattle in 2001 Hamar has been active in the role of supporting bassist. Jon has been busy as a recording artist playing on multiple cds with singer/songwriting artists including Wendy Huckins, Brian Finnell, Hans York, Eric Goetz and Bobby Krier. Recently Hamar played on Brian Owens’ disc Unmei, released on the OA2 label from Origin Records and will be heard on Carl Tanner’s upcoming release “Hear the Angels Sing” on Sony Classical. Jon has recently been performing with Jay Thomas, Ernestine Anderson, the Greg Williamson Quartet and the Axiom Quartet.

Clark Gibson has spent 11 years as a professional performer/educator in the music industry. Performing on saxophone, flute and clarinet, he has had the pleasure of working with many of the finest musicians in the industry. His career has brought me all over North America performing in major concert halls, theatres and countless restaurants and nightclubs. His last CD, “The Offering", was recorded in 2002. In 2003, based out of Denver, CO, the his band was nominated by Westword Magazine as Best Jazz Group in Colorado. Today, based out of Seattle, he is quickly getting established and beginning to build a fan base in Seattle’s jazz scene.

Dr. Ben Thomas has been a percussionist since 1985. Playing vibes, drumset, and percussion, he has performed in a wide variety of groups and genres. In the last few years, Thomas has performed at the Bumbershoot Arts Festival, Earshot Jazz Festival, Detroit-Montreaux Jazz Festival, Issaquah Jazz Festival, Anacortes Arts Festival, Ellensburg Jazz in the Valley Festival, Tacoma Maritime Festival, Bellingham Art of Jazz Series, and the Juneau Jazz and Classics Festival.

Thomas completed his Doctor of Musical Art in Percussion Performance at the University of Washington in 2007. His dissertation was on the development of Cal Tjader's early Latin Jazz vibraphone style. Thomas received his Master of Music with Honors in Improvisation from the University of Michigan in 1994. While in graduate school, he directed the University's Jazz Composers Orchestra and performed with Stephen Rush. His time with Rush resulted in the CD recording of Rush's chamber opera, Murders in the Rue Morgue. Thomas also graduated from Swarthmore College, where he majored in mathematics and music.

Brad Gibson plays drums and composes music. His varied influences include such players as Jim Black, Brian Blade, Matt Cameron, Matt Chamberlain, Winard Harper, Roy Haynes, Al Jackson Jr., Elvin Jones, Philly Joe Jones and Tony Williams. Brad has a great fondness for Afro Cuban and Brazilian music and in addition to being influenced by specific players, is also influenced by such musical thinkers as Gary Giddins, Keith Jarrett and Wynton Marsalis. Currently pursuing a BFA at Cornish College of the Arts, Brad's education includes a rich, largely informal schooling with such players as Steve Luceno, Chuck Stence, Bert Wilson and John Wicks. Mr. Gibson currently teaches at the Seattle Drum School of Music.

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