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BIOGRAPHY
Photo by Kate Joyce.


Alto saxophonist and composer Nick Mazzarella (b. 1984) has been a participant in Chicago’s jazz, free jazz, improvised music, and rock scenes as a bandleader, sideman, and presenter since 2002. After completing his formal music education at DePaul University (Bachelor of Music 2006, Master of Music 2009), he began performing regularly with his own groups and with projects led by his peers at venues throughout the city and the United States. His efforts have been especially concentrated around the activities of his primary working band, the Nick Mazzarella Trio, the musician and presenter collective Umbrella Music, and the Ratchet Series, a grass roots effort to establish a performance haven for free jazz in Chicago's Pilsen neighborhood. Equally at home in the worlds of the traditional and the avant-garde, Mazzarella maintains a continuous performance schedule encompassing a variety of musical contexts.


His notable collaborations to date include work with Ken Vandermark (Audio One / Midwest School), Rob Mazurek (Exploding Star Orchestra), Frank Rosaly (Green and Gold), Dana Hall (Black Fire / Polyglot), Devin Hoff (Bastet), Cameron Pfiffner, (Sabertooth / Marco Polo), Mars Williams (NRG Ensemble), Keefe Jackson (Likely So), Wayne Montana and Damon Locks (Eternals' Espiritu Zombi Ensemble), and Mikel Avery (Everypeople Workshop).



Mazzarella is a curator of the Ratchet Series (in residence at the Skylark in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood until 2014). The series, founded in 2007, provides musicians of diverse styles and approaches within the genres of free jazz and improvised and experimental music with a weekly performance opportunity. By organizing these concert events, Mazzarella and co-presenters Frank Rosaly and Anton Hatwich strive to foster a supportive community for musicians on Chicago's south side.





PRESS


ARTICLES


CHICAGO REED QUARTET: A CONCERT REVIEW (click here for article)
BY NEIL TESSER FOR CHICAGOMUSIC.ORG

NICK MAZZARELLA TRIO 2013 CHICAGO JAZZ FESTIVAL BIOGRAPHY (click here for article)
BY PETER MARGASAK FOR THE JAZZ INSTITUTE OF CHICAGO

NICK MAZZARELLA TRIO: A CONCERT PREVIEW (click here for article)
BY NEIL TESSER FOR CHICAGOMUSIC.ORG

NOW HEAR THIS: THE NICK MAZZARELLA TRIO (click here for article)
BY DEVIN HURD FOR THE NEW MUSIC BOX, E-MAGAZINE OF THE AMERICAN MUSIC CENTER

SAXOPHONIST NICK MAZZARELLA COMES INTO HIS OWN (click here for article)
BY PETER MARGASAK FOR THE 9.29.2011 CHICAGO READER

QUOTES

"Volcanic Chicago saxophonist Nick Mazzarella is more technical than many fire-­breathing horn men; an overdriven parry may consist of a series of precisely articulated arpeggios rather than a giant slur. His buoyant freebop has a joyous sound and feel all its own."
- John Corbett, Chicago Reader

"Mazzarella’s prowess stems from his billowing timbre and clarity of thought."
- Neil Tesser, chicagomusic.org

"To hear Nick Mazzarella play the alto saxophone is to hear a well-honed connection between his creative impulse and the horn that becomes an extension of his musical identity. It is a creative instinct steeped in jazz history and brimming over with a passion for free improvisation. In Chicago’s community of aggressively original talent and dedicated musicianship, his ability stands out."
- Devin Hurd, New Music Box

"Many of Mazzarella's compositions borrow Ornette Coleman's ebullient, jaunty melodicism, but he often changes the mood when he takes an extended solo - his dark, visceral phrasing and strident tone recall fire breathers like Pharoah Sanders and Albert Ayler."
- Peter Margasak, Chicago Reader

"Mazzarella has that satisfying union of warmth/heat and continuous, logical melodic/rhythmic thought that goes right back to the beginnings of this music."
- Larry Kart, Yale University Press

"To hear Mazzarella play saxophone is to bear witness to an exquisite young talent."
- Kenneth Preski, New City

"Mazzarella's compositional sense is heavily melodic, and he summons expert lyricism on alto saxophone."
- Walter Tunis, Lexington Herald-Leader

"Mazzarella possesses a joyfully keening alto saxophone tone with the impact of Ornette Coleman’s upbeat existentialism. He also reveals a capacity for cage fighting fury and fluent abstraction."
- Michael Jackson, Chicago Sun Times