Nicholas Rousseau

Nicholas is a Jazz Guitarist based in Boston.

My Jazz Story

"For me, the word 'jazz' means, 'I dare you.' The effort to break out of something is worth more than getting an A in syncopation." - Wayne Shorter. This quote had a profound effect on me in my time in music school, and continues to have a profound effect on me in my every day life, in addition to Shorter's music. I began playing jazz when I was still in high school, rummaging through my father's old real book. I was skimming through pages until I feasted my eyes on a visual masterpiece, the lead sheet to Shorter's "Armageddon," off his Blue Note release "Night Dreamer." I attempted to play it with little luck, about to quit because I couldn't figure out how to correctly execute this beautiful peace of music. Yet I kept going, and many years later I find myself a music school graduate with a degree in Jazz Performance, writing for All About Jazz. My favorite musician definitely is the aforementioned Wayne Shorter. I look up to him as not only a musician but a person and spiritual guide. I don't particularly follow a specific religion, but I believe Shorter emanates such wisdom and grace, with the playful spirit of a child yet the ferocity of a raging bull. In addition to Shorter, some of my other musical heroes include Gilad Hekselman, Mark Turner, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Chris Potter, Shai Maestro, Eric Harland, Brian Blade, Jim Hall, Bill Evans, Miles Davis, among many others. I was lucky enough to take a private lesson with Hekselman during my 10 day trip to New York, where I experienced various concerts and saw many of my heroes live, including four different groups featuring Hekselman. I can't remember the first jazz record I bought, but one of the first jazz records to have a profound effect on me was Kurt Rosenwinkel's "The Next Step." That record blows my mind to this day, where I continuously discover something new with every listen. My advice to new listeners is to find something you connect with. Being a guitar player, I had a lot of trouble getting into traditional jazz because the guitar was so ostracized in traditional settings. Sure there are many traditional jazz albums where the guitarist is featured as a prominent role, but to me it felt like most of the best albums did not feature guitar players. My point of entry was through guys like Kurt Rosenwinkel or Mike Stern, which appealed to my rock roots and to me was a gateway into the older stuff. I often feel guilty for not appreciating the tradition as much as I should, but as I grow older I realize it's okay to listen to what I like to listen, things that I feel emotionally attached to and ultimately make me feel something.

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