The trombone is a vital part of any big band or orchestra. And often with smaller ensembles, it is an excellent background or solo instrument. However, in recent decades, it has faded as a lead instrument. Nick Finzer aims to change that culture with The Chase (Origin Records, 2015).

With Finzer are Lucas Pino, saxophone; Alex Wintz, guitar; Glenn Zaleski, piano; Dave Baron, bass; and Jimmy MacBride, drums.

“Life Happens” is a moderate, sunny piece. Trombone and sax harmonize for the lead, delivering a warm, celebratory melody. Then, each takes a turn in the spotlight, followed by the guitar, while the other players remain engaged. Then a brief interlude with only piano, bass and drums sets up a return to the main theme. Through it all, MacBride has a little fun, doing far more than simply maintaining the beat.

The trio of trombone, sax and guitar, play in unison to start the upbeat “All Hype.” Finzer plays in a throaty style. He takes off on a jaunt that may best be described as knowing where one wants to go, and knowing the most convenient route, but deciding to go the back way, where you’re free to take your time and enjoy the scenery. Pino follows in like fashion.

The remaining songs follow a similar format, with the trombone and sax, sometimes with the guitar, leading the melody, and then a series of solos. That’s part of Finzer’s concept. “I write to challenge myself, but I made sure that on this recording there would be plenty of room to highlight these incredible players.”

Finzer has been a member of Ryan Truesdell’s Gil Evans Project. He did undergraduate studies at the Eastman School of Music. He was mentored by trombonist Wycliffe Gordon and graduated with a master’s degree from the Julliard School of Music. He’s performance associations include Wynton Marsalis and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, Frank Wess, Frank Kimbrough, Lewis Nash and Terrell Stafford.