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Plaza de Toros


James Finn Trio

Dominic Duval (b), James Finn (ts), Warren Smith (d),

James Finn not only plays brilliantly, but he also produced, engineered, mixed, and mastered this CD single-handedly. The album features bassist Dominic Duval, Downbeat Magazine 2003 Award recipient of ‘Talent Deserving Wide Recognition’ along with legendary percussionist Warren Smith. In the liner notes, Frank Rubolino writes,”James crafts a masterful conceptual portrait overflowing with potency and warmth. The music of three exceptional musicians merges into one harmonious outpouring of stimulating beauty.” Steve Smith of Time Out Magazine NY writes, “One of music’s signal pleasures is the arrival of a performer whose sound and conception are so mature and fully formed, you can’t help but ponder under what barrel they’ve previously been hidden. Ecstatic-jazz newcomer James Finn makes precisely that impression.” Matthew Sumera, of One Final Note wrote, “It’d be safe to say that the story of 2004 in creative improvised music is James Finn’s arrival as a leader.” For this venture, James chose to capture in music the essence of the bullfight in all its radiant glory. The bullfight is the life and breath of Spain. It has a tradition dating back several thousand years when Greek and Roman influences transformed religious sacrifice into a spectacular for the people. It is passionately endorsed by that country’s populace. The sport is majestic, regal, and a skilled work of choreographed artistry. In keeping with those qualities, James has generated a stunning work of musical art depicting the power, emotions, and elation emerging from the contest. If you listen closely, you can almost hear the inner struggle between the characters. In this story, the matador comes to realize that this bullfight was more than just ‘man conquering beast’. As they each try to anticipate and outwit the other, it is revealed to the matador that their consciousness’ are entwined. In the finale, the matador is hailed as the hero: he realizes, however, that it is the relentless and crafty Toro Bravo facing death so courageously who is the true hero. James said,”I first conceived of this theme while living in Spanish Harlem just prior to this recording. The making of this album came together like a seamless dream. In that moment, we lived it…the first time that we played together as a trio. The sparks were flying. You could almost smell the dirt…every track made in one take. “In Plaza de Toros various architectures can be found throughout. A favorite occurs in the opening theme of the title song. Years ago, while living in the mountains near Woodstock, NY, we were visited by the seventeen-year cicada. Well, if you’ve ever heard them, you will concur that they make a torrent of sound. I took my saxophone out into the middle of a meadow and joined in uninvited into their alien symphony. I found to my amazement that they, millions – possibly billions of them, were singing in waves on a scale pitched in D-flat that was a complete mirror of itself. Bela Bartok called this the golden scale. It has also been referred to by some musicologists as the Hungarian major scale. I used this scale with some variations in the theme on the title song. I also used this scale in the theme of Opening the Gates – my first album. Another favorite architecture in Plaza de Toros occurs in the opening statement of El Tercio de Vanderillas. I stated a four-note motif and followed with its mirror reflection to announce the ensuing stage – symbolically representing on a variety of levels: the pairs of darts or banderillas wielded by the matador: the pronate horns of the bull; the mirror of the circular movement and strategies of the opponents.” James Finn’s story is one, like so many, who has struggled for many years in order to finally receive some recognition and success. Back in 1991, Jimmy Heath, impressed with James’ talent, described him as “someone who had fallen through the cracks.” Yes, finally, James is beginning to be heard. He says, “God willing, NOW IS MY TIME.”



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