Nic Vardanega | New Beginning Review
by Griff Stevens
Nic Vardanega’s latest album, New Beginning, is the third leader date for this jazz guitarist and composer, embodying a narrative rich in personal and artistic growth. The album reflects Vardanega’s journey, from his roots in Australia to his current life in New York City, and it marks a significant milestone in his career as he embraces fatherhood and the post-pandemic world.
Vardanega brings together a trio of exceptional musicians, each contributing their unique artistry to the album. Vardanega, at the helm with his guitar and compositions, leads with a mix of technical brilliance and heartfelt expression, crafting intricate and emotionally resonant melodies. He is joined by Ben Allison, a bassist known for his lyrical approach and profound musical intelligence. Allison’s bass lines are not just foundational but conversational, adding depth and narrative to each track. Completing the trio is Allan Mednard on drums, a master of rhythm and subtlety. Mednard’s drumming is dynamic and sensitive, providing the perfect balance of momentum and space, allowing the trio to explore a vast landscape of musical textures. Together, these three musicians create an album that is a rich tapestry of sound, each bringing their distinct voice to a collective expression that is both powerful and nuanced.
The album’s title track, “New Beginning,” sets the tone for the entire work, encapsulating Vardanega’s transition into fatherhood and his adaptation to life after the pandemic. This personal touch is evident throughout the album, lending authenticity and depth to his compositions.
Vardanega’s choice to focus on a guitar, bass, and drums trio for this album shows his appreciation for simplicity and intimacy in jazz. This format allows for a more nuanced and personal expression, evident in tracks like “Cardenas” and “Inner Episode.”
Vardanega’s technical guitar mastery shines throughout the album, particularly in tracks like “Side Effects” and “Glass Moon.” His playing is intricate and expressive, showcasing his ability to weave complex melodies with emotional depth.
The album also features complex rhythms and time signatures, demonstrating Vardanega’s advanced understanding of jazz composition. This is particularly noticeable in “Looking Back” and “Summers,” where the interplay between the trio creates a rich tapestry of sound.
Vardanega’s solos are storied displays of technical skill and his gift for telling stories. In “M’s Lullaby,” his playing conveys a sense of warmth and intimacy, reflecting his new role as a father. This approach to playing allows him to form a connection with listeners, leading to his music resonating emotionally with them and connecting them to Vardanega’s personal journey. Each song is an experience that invites reflection and repeated listening.
New Beginning is a new milestone in Nic Vardanega’s career. It showcases his growth as a musician and as a person. The trio format brings out the best in his compositions, allowing each note to breathe and each emotion to be felt. The album is a journey through Vardanega’s life changes, and it invites listeners to reflect on their own experiences of growth and renewal. Vardanega has crafted a deeply personal yet universally relatable work, a rare feat in any artistic endeavor.
Release Date: June 23, 2023