Buffalo has always had a strong local jazz scene with its own distinct, no-nonsense vibe. Folks like Grover Washington, Mel Lewis, and drummer Frankie Dunlop, known for his work with Monk, came from here, and there’s even a regional school of muscular, tough-toned Italian-American saxophonists from Western & Central New York: Sal Nistico, Don Menza, Bobby Militello, Pat LaBarbera, and Sam Falzone, among others.
Today, younger players, often returning from academic jazz studies, and newcomers to Buffalo are bringing their own ideas and energy to the scene. House of Relics reflects these developments. Bassist Danny Ziemann, just finishing his undergrad studies at Eastman, and drummer Russ Algera represent the “youth vote” in the band, while the rest of us aren’t Buffalo natives: I’m from Minneapolis (I tell people I came here for the weather...), trumpeter Tim Clarke is from Oregon, pianist Michael McNeill from Rochester by way of Boston, and Bruce Johnstone, of course, hails from New Zealand!
Since more than half the band ain’t from around here, House of Relics is not, perhaps, an “indigenous” Buffalo record — but it IS emphatically a local record: it’s a document of the increasingly interesting and varied scene here.
I couldn’t be more proud of it, and I’m very happy to have it come out of this heart-on-its-sleeve city I love and call my home!