Scofield show at the Berklee Performance Center

Here are a few videos of our BPC show from August 6th. We had a great time playing my arrangements of Scofield’s great tunes. 

The band:: Reeds: Allan Chase, Mark Zaleski, Kenny Pexton, Jon Bean, Eric Hewitt — Trumpets: Bijon Watson, Jeff Claassen, Christine Fawson, Daniel Rosenthal — Trombones: Timothy James Lienhard, Randall Pingrey, Clayton Dewalt, Chris Creswell — Guitar: Steven Kirby — Organ: Joe Mulholland — Bass: Rick McLaughlin — Drums: Austin McMahon

Kurt Weill

arr. Nicholas Urie

Zachary Wilder: Tenor  

A Far Cry

The Berklee Harmony Department Big Band concert was a blast! It was so nice to get together with my colleagues and make some music. We spend a lot of time in meetings together but we don’t get to interact musically all that often. As you’ll hear, the band did a great job performing my arrangement of John Scofield’s Southern Pacific. Steven Kirby: Guitar and Will Silvio: Tenor


I woke up this morning and remembered that my friend died two years ago today. It is hard to imagine that there was someone so completely engrossing and so incredibly influential in my life, and that he is now no longer with us - with me.

Somehow I notice his influence in my writing more now that he’s passed away than I ever did when he was alive. I feel his gaze more acutely when I sit down to write. His questions ring much louder in my ears and I find myself interrogating my work hearing his grumbly voice. “You’re more creative than that,” floats through my mind regularly prompting me to not just solve a musical problem but to really explore the options, to find the marrow of the moment. 

Since beginning my gig teaching arranging at Berklee, the ghost of Bob regularly possesses my body and I find myself offering his critiques of my student’s work. “Why?” being a favorite observation/pseudo-question-statement of his. Another classic Bob question that I find myself asking students is, “is that the easy thing to write?” I say “do-ah” when I’m rehearsing a band and I ask everyone to play a very short note very loudly when we’re not entirely together. Both of those things make such a huge difference in the ensemble sound. Bob knew how to make a good band sound great. 

If you aren’t familiar with Bob’s work, here are some great videos of him doing his thing:

That’s Him

He’s simple as a swim in summer. Not arty. Not actory… He’s satisfactory” 

Composed by Kurt Weill 

Arranged by Nicholas Urie 

Performed by Kristen Watson, Soprano with A Far Cry chamber orchestra. 

Lonely House

The quiet settles down again, the house and I are all alone. 

Composed by Kurt Weill

Arranged by Nicholas Urie 

Performed by Zachary Wilder and A Far Cry in Jordan Hall

"2 Guys and a Gal" With the Ayn Inserto Jazz Orchestra


Our “2 Guys and a Gal” concert in David Friend went splendidly. Ayn’s band was able to do some amazing things with very little rehearsal. I haven’t done much in Boston since I moved back (from my beloved Brooklyn) for my teaching position at Berklee; reuniting with many of the people I played with all the time while I was at New England Conservatory was a treat. 

As always Ayn and Jeff’s music was amazing to hear. Jeff’s music has a manic quality that I LOVE. He keeps you right on the edge of your seat the whole time. Ayn’s music is wonderfully detailed and surprising in it’s linear construction and rhythmic language. I often say to myself when I’m listening to Ayn’s music, “how does she hear this?” Her music has the feeling of being entirely what it is, if you know what I mean. No superfluous this and that. Just the music. It sounds so natural. Basically, I couldn’t have been happier to do a show with them.  

We performed two of my arrangements: “Southern Pacific,” which is a great Scofield second-line(ish) tune in 6-4 that I arranged for a concert with Sco and Denmark’s Klüvers Big Band. The other arrangement of mine was a deconstruction/savage remaking of Monk’s “Straight, No Chaser.” Monk’s music has always been a central pillar in my universe and I have been working on a project for the past year, I guess for lack of a better term, going deep into the man’s music. The arrangement is a sort of reflection on the mood of the title and by the end we find ourselves clutching to the bar trying to find our way home. 

I’ll post recordings as soon as they materialize. 

September 12, 7:30 at Berklee’s David Friend Recital Hall

Ayn Inserto’s band will be playing a couple of my charts on September 12th (a Monk and a Scofield). The concert will also feature Ayn’s music and pieces by Jeff Claassen. The concert will be one set and is FREE. Come down and cheek it out. It should be a great show. 

"2 Guys and a Gal" With the Ayn Inserto Jazz Orchestra:
co-led with Jeff Claassen and Nicholas Urie

Berklee College of Music
David Friend Recital Hall
921 Boylston Street
Boston, MA
Free; 7:30pm
Berklee Events

Boston Globe: Far Cry sounds poignant, precise, and subtle


"…Capping off the concert were five songs by Kurt Weill, ingeniously arranged by jazz composer Nicholas Urie. Even here there were surprises — the opening of “Lonely House” could almost have been part of the Webern. For the most part, though, the songs adroitly walked the delicate line between art and entertainment. So did the performances by Wilder, Watson, and the Criers, all of whom wore their skills with a kind of casual virtuosity."

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The Jazz Session is Back!

The internet’s best jazz and improvised music resource is back! Jason Crane is resuming his duties as the chronicler of improvised music. Jason is an insightful interviewer and an incredibly sensitive listener. 

I’ve had the pleasure of being interviewed by Jason twice: In episode 74 (Excerpts From an Online Dating Service) and episode 224 (My Garden). 

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