Meet Nick Manson: Originally from Seattle, Nick studied classical piano, privately for many years. He began writing music for big band as a sophomore in high school. He attended the Berklee College of Music in Boston, and the Dick Grove School in Los Angeles. He has performed, arranged, and produced on numerous occasions in the past 25 years for TV, Film, and Commercials.
Nick has often been a favorite featured guest on Jim Wilke's "Jazz in the Northwest, KPLU jazz radio. He has recorded and/or performed with jazz and pop artists John Patitucci, Andy Suzuki, Ernestine Anderson, Jay Thomas, Bud Shank, B.B. King, Plas Johnson, Steve Huffstetter, Kim Richmond, Chuck Manning, The DMQ, Robert Kyle, Jeff Kashiwa (formerly of The Rippingtons), Bruce Conte (Tower of Power), Al McKay (Earth, Wind & Fire), Lenny Kravitz, Will Calhoun (Living Colour), Deniece Williams, Steve Ferrone, Alphonze Mouzon and Tom Brechtlein, as well as gospel artists Roby Duke, The Katinas and Terry Clark.
Nick is also a two time EMMY Award recipient for music production on TV's How 'Bout That?.
Teachers and/or influences? Bill Evans, John Coltrane, Wayne Shorter, Keith Jarrett, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Victor Feldman, Clare Fischer, and so many others from many other styles of music.
I knew I wanted to be a musician when... I got my first Beatles record for my fifth birthday.
Your sound and approach to music: It depends. I enjoy playing in a very impromptu manner within duo, trio and quartet settings, but I love arranging and production as well. I began writing for big band my sophomore year of high school.
Your teaching approach: Start with Bach. If you can play Bach, everything will follow technically. Transcribe lots of recordings.
Favorite venue: Anywhere in Japan. Saxophonist Andy Suzuki and I were on the road in Japan last year, and everywhere we went, the people were incredible listeners!
What do you think is the most important thing you are contributing musically? Encouraging musicians to be themselves no matter what the cost.
Did you know... I'm an addict to computer gaming (X-Box, Nintendo).
How do you use the internet to help your career? The internet has allowed me to be my own boss and reach out to more listeners than possible before. I'm having a blast with my own CD label, Manasus Music.
CDs you are listening to now: Victor Feldman, Rio Nights; John Patitucci, Line By Line; The Beatles, Love; Miles Davis, ESP; Wayne Shorter, Moto Grosso Feio.
Desert Island picks: Chick Corea/Return To Forever, Light As A Feather (Polydor); Clare Fischer, The Duke (Discovery); Weather Report, Heavy Weather (Columbia); Miles Davis, Bitches Brew (Columbia); Keith Jarrett, My Song (ECM).
How would you describe the state of jazz today? Very divided into factions, unfortunately. I thought this would end after the 1970s, but, oh well. To each his/her own.
What are some of the essential requirements to keep jazz alive and growing? Live venues. Let's face it: a recording is, like Sonny Rollins has said, primarily a promotional device.
But there's nothing like the high energy or placid calm available in attending a live performance.
What is in the near future? I have a very exciting project that will be happening in NYC in the fall, but it's a secret for now.
By Day: After ten years of developing music software, I am now back to freelance music and loving it!
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already. SOOOO... he started me off LP's by Oscar Peterson, Art Tatum, Bud Powell, Errol Garner, Bill Evans, Monty Alexander, Charlie Byrd, and Dave Brubeck... does it get any better than that? ...No, it doesn't. I was hooked!!
I met and had a master class with the late music giant John Lewis, leader of the Modern Jazz Quartet! This was at CCNY in 1977. I was blessed! It was an incredible class... how could it have been anything else?!?!
The first jazz record I bought was...I bought numerous records from my friend at the record store, as mentioned above. He introduced me to nothing but music giants/legends! I think The Dave Brubeck Quartet, Greatest Hits, was actually the first one.
My advice to new listeners... study first--understand the rudiments--solfeggio, keys, scales, and basic chords. Read a book or take a class that includes the study of chord progressions, especially in jazz. It should ideally be a piano class so you can play multiple notes together. Have a good EAR or else it's not really worth it in my view...to become a musician, a good EAR for music is about as fundamental as breathing! Learn to read chord charts--i.e., lead sheets - wherein you play various voicings of the chords--major, minor, dominant 7th (alterations of these, you can learn over time - the basic chords are most important for starters), plus the melody, on the piano or keyboard. If you have to read the exact notes, then it's not the same as actually internalizing it & getting it all into your head. If you can do this, I think you're ready not only for listening to jazz, but understanding many concepts of it! Of course...anyone can listen to jazz... but I think it's so good to also have a grasp of it.