Saxophonist and composer Nick Mazzarella has been described as "continuing the approach taken by like-minded trailblazing altoists like Eric Dolphy, Ornette Coleman, Henry Threadgill, Oliver Lake, and Gary Bartz” by “seeking to embody the history of the music while pushing it forward into new realms” (Troy Dostert, All About Jazz). He has been a consistent presence in Chicago's music scene since the early 2000s, where his continuous performance schedule has made an aesthetically unique contribution to the city’s rich culture of jazz and improvised music. His working trio and quintet have served as the primary vehicles for his endeavors as a composer and bandleader, while as a collaborator or sideman he has performed and recorded with such artists as Tomeka Reid, Joshua Abrams, Hamid Drake, Ingebrigt Håker Flaten, Avreeayl Ra, Rob Mazurek, and Makaya McCraven. Recordings of his original music have been released by Nessa Records, Clean Feed Records, International Anthem Recording Company, and Astral Spirits, and he has performed with his ensembles and as a solo artist throughout the United States and Scandinavia.
In addition to his activities as a performing musician, Mazzarella has contributed to the vibrancy of the Chicago jazz community by working as a concert series presenter since 2008. He currently curates two ongoing concert series in Chicago—the Anagram Series, presented weekly at Elastic Arts in Avondale, and the Ratchet Series, presented monthly at Cafe Mustache in Logan Square.
"[Mazzarella is a] student of jazz’s deep history and a freedom seeker unwilling to let rules hold back expression."
– Peter Margasak, Chicago Reader
"Anyone who follows jazz in Chicago knows that Mazzarella can summon tremendous power on his instrument."
– Howard Reich, Chicago Tribune
"Mazzarella’s prowess stems from his billowing timbre and clarity of thought.”
– Neil Tesser, chicagomusic.org
"To hear Mazzarella play saxophone is to bear witness to an exquisite young talent.”
– Kenneth Preski, Newcity Magazine