This week for “Where Are They Now,” we feature Nick Maclean,
1) When did you participate in the Jazzology program?
I was in the program in 2014 during the 1st year of my Masters in Jazz Performance degree at
the University of Toronto.
2) Describe your experience with the Jazzology program. What was you favourite aspect?
I enjoyed the program a lot. Sitting down with Heather Bambrick to talk about music for an hour or so
was a great deal of fun but also gave me a great deal of insight into the making of a radio interview as
well as how to present oneself in an interview – an important skill for a musician.
3) Would you recommend this experience to other young musicians? Why?
I would definitely recommend this for other young musicians. This program forces you to figure out
how to contextualize and talk about your music – a necessary skill for musicians and often one that
isn’t given enough thought. It’s done in a very supportive and low-pressure way and it gives you a great
snapshot into the inner workings of radio broadcasting.
4) How has this experience helped in your personal and professional development?
This experience has helped me to focus the direction of my projects. To be able to talk about one’s
music one must be able to define what one’s music is all about. A clear and meaningful definition of a
musical project’s purpose can be difficult to pin down, but once you have it your group suddenly has a
clear purpose. A well defined purpose or direction is important to give a band’s sound focus and
5) This program is made possible by our generous donor…. thank them in person, what would you say?
Apart from the obvious ‘thank you very much’, people like these donors are important. The music
industry is in a very precarious state – at every level. With the decline of album sales, music venues
closing left and right, and the steady devaluation of recorded and live music it’s hard out here and
there is the ever-present temptation to jealously guard whatever small piece of the pie one has
managed to carve off. But I don’t think that’s the way to go because if we all link arms and support
each other we’ll all be stronger for it. These donors are contributing to that community-building ideal
and I think it’s a beautiful thing.
6) Why is music education important?
When asked this question there are many people who will say things like ‘music education makes you
smarter’ or whatever. Whether or not that’s true, I hate arguments like that because they gloss over the
most important one – music education is important because music is important! Music is everywhere in
our society – shows, movies/television, restaurants, gyms, etc. It permeates just about everything in
some shape or form and we use it to express our individuality, to convey emotion and to tell stories.
Music is a language that can communicate things our spoken language cannot. Without some sort of
music education you can’t take part in that abstract conversation with any sort of depth.
7) Since participating in the program, what have you been doing?
In the last year my electric jazz-funk group SNAGGLE released our 2nd album THE LONG SLOG. We
released it on the Toronto-based jazz record label BROWNTASAURAS RECORDS and the record was
produced by the label’s CEO and internationally acclaimed jazz-trumpet player BROWNMAN ALI.
We’ve been very lucky and the album has been charting around the world and we’ve been getting a
number of incredible reviews. We were also overjoyed and humbled to discover that the album was a
recipient of a Gold-standard GLOBAL MUSIC AWARD in three different categories in December 2016.
So things have been good, we’ve since also released our christmas single CHRISTMAS TUNE and are
currently planning a Euro tour for the summer of 2018. The group has some Southern Ontario dates
coming up this August, so make sure to keep an eye out for that!
Back in March Snaggle also held an event I’ve been wanting to do for awhile – a SNARKY PUPPY
tribute show! It was a ton of fun, the band really dug into the material and a number of us were playing
double duties – I myself was trying to play keyboard parts that usually would be played by 2 or 3 guys!
We plan on bringing it back sometime in the fall, so keep an eye out for that as well!
My NYC-style jazz quartet the NICK MACLEAN QUARTET has also been having a good year. We’ve
got our debut album in the works at the moment. This group is the antithesis to Snaggle, more hardswinging
and taking a lot of influences from Herbie Hancock’s 1960’s quartet with Freddie Hubbard.
We finished tracking at Canterbury studios in May, at the moment we’re just finishing up edits and are
about to head into mixing. I’m very excited for this album, the band has spent the better part of a year
getting inside each other’s heads and we’ve got a real chemistry that makes playing in that group so
much fun. We’re planning for an October release and we’ve already started booking release dates
across Ontario, so watch out for when that drops!
Apart from that my very good friend and colleague BROWNMAN ALI brought me on board his record
label BROWNTASAURAS RECORDS as a ‘label manager’ so I’ve been helping to continue the
development of the label’s infrastructure as well as supporting a number of the artists that are on the
label. In May BROWNTASAURAS had it’s first ‘label night’ where it presented three of it’s electric-jazz
artists: BROWNMAN ELECTRYC TRIO, SNAGGLE, and MODUS FACTOR. It was a great night of
music and we’re really looking forward to the next one – we’re going to be aiming to bring out the
label’s big band, Chelsea McBride’s SOCIALIST NIGHT SCHOOL who released an incredible album
called TWILIGHT FALL on the label just last January.
8) What are your plans for the future?
The NICK MACLEAN QUARTET is going to be releasing our debut album in October of this year, so
we’ll be doing a Southern Ontario release tour and we’ll be starting to look towards booking national
and international festival dates.
SNAGGLE is currently building a 2018 Euro-tour (we’ve already got a few dates confirmed in
Germany!) so I’m very much looking forward to that.
Apart from that the next big project that I’m looking towards is a solo-piano album. Because of our
musical history, friendship, and the enormous respect I have for his deep musical knowledge and
ability I’ve asked Brownman Ali to produce the record and I’m very much looking forward to working
with him in such a personal setting. So the next little while is going to be focused on composition for
solo piano – I’ve got a few pieces finished but not enough for a full length album yet.
So the future is looking bright, lots of irons in the fire, lots to do!
9) How can people learn more about you and your activities?
The best way for people to keep up with what I’m doing is to subscribe to my monthly newsletter. It’s a
small newsletter I send out once a month with information about upcoming gigs, any interesting news
with any of my groups and occasionally free give aways. The link to subscribe is here:
For updates on the Nick Maclean Quartet, my solo piano stuff or anything else, the best place to go is
my website www.nicholasmaclean.com
Nick Maclean Bio
NICK MACLEAN is “one of the most gifted young Toronto pianists to come along in the last
few years ” (Adrean Farrugia, Juno winning jazz pianist) and has quickly become one of the most in
demand 20-something piano players in that city’s bustling jazz scene. Nick received his Bachelors of
Music from Humber College in 2013, having studied with David Restivo, Bernie Senensky and Nancy
Walker. He then went on to do a Masters in Jazz Performance at the University of Toronto researching
synthesizer pedagogy while studying under David Occhipinti, Andrew Downing, Chris Donnelly and
David Braid. Braid in particular had an enormous influence on how Maclean approaches playing and
composing especially as it relates to solo piano performance. Additional musical influences include the
likes of Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, Brad Meldau, Weather Report, Snarky Puppy, Kneebody,
Hiromi Uehara, Art Tatum, Miles Davis, Avishai Cohen (bass), Vijay Iyer, and Michel Camilo.
Maclean’s debut ensemble SNAGGLE, a groove-based all-original eclectic electric-jazz
project, sports a 6-man lineup, compositional odysseys and is often compared by media to Snarky
Puppy. The band has an EP and two full length albums under it’s belt the last of which, THE LONG
SLOG, was released in 2016 on the award winning record label BROWNTASAURAS records and
received much praise from luminous figures in the national and international jazz community:
“…young pianist Nick Maclean’s 6-man electric-jazz group SNAGGLE is most impressive!
The music on Long Slog is very, very challenging, yet groovy, soulful & exploratory at the
same time… Extremely well performed, written and executed… Reminds me of a band I used
to play in!”
– Randy Brecker, multi-Grammy winning trumpet legend
“Maclean and the members of Snaggle, with the help of Brownman, have crafted a very
personal and compelling musical statement, bursting with wide-ranging influences tied together
by a sense of unified purpose, chock-full of hidden treasures and layers to be uncovered through
repeated listening. So settle in, close your eyes, and let the voyage unfold.”
– David Restivo, Canadian jazz piano giant
The NICK MACLEAN QUARTET is his straight-ahead hard-swinging quartet featuring
internationally acclaimed BROWNMAN ALI on trumpet as well as some of the cities most in demand
20-somethings: JESSE DIETSCHI on bass and TYLER GOERTZEN on drums. The Nick Maclean
Quartet features compositions from all band members done with a modern twist on the exploratory
spirit of Herbie Hancock’s primordial 1960’s quartet. The quartet has been performing steadily since
it’s inception in June of 2015 including three performances at the 2016 TD Toronto Jazz Festival. The
group recorded their debut album in May 2017 and is poised to release the album in October of the
Maclean’s SOLO PIANO PROJECT is two years into it’s development and is a deep
examination of the possibilities and capabilities of the piano. This is one of Nick’s most exploratory
avenues both as a composer and a performer as it is a medium which offers him complete
compositional control. Nick’s work draws from a wide range of influences and constantly shifts
textures and colours throughout his pieces. Maclean is preparing for a solo album which will be
recorded in 2018. The future is bright for this young visionary as he continues his upward ascent in jazz
art forms of all shapes and sizes.