Nick Bisesi is not your typical musician. In high school, at an age when most aspiring youngsters are just learning the blues scale, Bisesi was opening his ears and sharpening his technique with Joe Daley, a key player in the 60ʼs avant garde movement. He attended De Paul University on scholarship, supplementing his music education in Chicago nightclubs - where he played everything from jazz to pop, R&B, classical, reggae, Latin, and ballroom music.
This experience polished him into an exceptionally flexible musician - Bisesi is as comfortable pumping out a syncopated ska beat as he is whipping through a complex post-bop turnaround. After cutting his teeth in Chicago, Bisesi hit the road, playing with the likes of Ray Charles, The Temptations, Nancy Wilson, Liquid Soul, Lou Rawls and Johnny Mathis.
He then went to New York, where the National Endowment for the Arts awarded him a grant to apprentice with world renowned saxophonist David Liebman. Impressed with his sound, Liebman produced Bisesi’s first CD, Free Time. After 8 years of honing his skills in NYC, and becoming a regular presence at The Knitting Factory, Detour and other Downtown venues, Bisesi returned to Chicago and collaborated with Ramsey Lewis to record the Billboard Top 5 album “Urban Knights VI”. He received a Grammy nomination as featured soloist on Angel Melendez 911 Mambo Orchestra's CD.
Nick then went on to release 3 more CD’s as a leader of his own quartet. His latest CD Gemini has gathered rave reviews from the press and is currently playing on over 170 radio stations in the US and Canada.
Nick has performed with such notables as Ray Charles, Nancy Wilson, David Liebman, Ramsey Lewis, Jon Faddis, Matt Wilson, Louis Bellson, The Glenn Miller Orchestra, The Benny Goodman Orchestra, Lou Rawls, Dave Mason, Johnny Mathis, Bobby Vinton, Frankie Avalon, Liquid Soul, The Temptations, The Spinners, The Coasters, The Drifters, The Four Tops, Debbie Reynolds, Bobby Vinton, Bob Hope, and Chubby Checker.
Nick has performed at numerous venues throughout the country and in Europe including:
New York City - Knitting Factory, Kavehaz, Smalls, Detour, Cornelia St. Café, Neo Lounge, Tonic, The Bitter End, Lions Den, Webster Hall, Izzy Bar, Yardbird Suite, and Rose’s Turn.
Chicago - Jazz Showcase, Chicago Center for Performing Arts, Hothouse, Smoke Daddy, Hotti Biscotti, Underground Wonderbar, the Box Factory, the Roundhouse, Taste of Chicago, Petrillo Bandshell, Double Door, The Bop Shop, and Andy’s.
The Netherlands - De RegentenKammer, De Prael, Sam Sam, Bethany’s, CC Muziekcafé, and Hotel De Waag.
Germany - Jazz am Schloss, Hypothalamus, (Rhiene), Dausen & Hartmann Musikhaus (Meppen), and Fock’s Jam Factory.
“The maturity of his playing and writing is remarkable!”
“I really enjoyed the band...very interesting compositions and Nick sounded great!”
- George Wien - Founder, Newport Jazz Festival
“A consummate jazz player and an excellent teacher.”
- David Bloom - Founder, Bloom School of Jazz
“An excellent and non-cliché ridden improviser.”
-Robert Spencer, Cadence Magazine
“Bisesi can't help but infuse the music with throaty emotion.”
-Neil Tesser, Chicago Readers Critics Choice
“I Love this CD!”
-Brad Stone, Music Director KSJS-FM San Jose
“A talented and highly individual tenor-saxophonist.”
“Spontaneous and full of creativity…”
-Dr. Ana Isabel Ordonez - Jazz Review.com
“Gemini exudes a sense of energy and freshness. Nick's knowledge and respect for the tradition of jazz is evident; but he clearly wants to chart his own path.”
-Mark F. Turner, All about Jazz
Review from Cadence Magazine
Saxophonist Nick Bisesi’s Gemini is as warm and inviting as the subdued, brown hues that adorn its artwork. An all-original program, save for the Johnny Mercer closer, Bisesi’s music has a Ballads-era Coltrane vibe in two lovely pieces, “Waltz for Gayle” and “Undercurrents,” and he shares a few devices of phrasing with the master. But his expressionistic depth, both as a player and a composer, lifts him far above imitator status. Tracks like “The Garden,” with its turn-on-a-dime ensemble play, and “Organic Combustion,” which juxtaposes a late Coltrane-ish opening riff against an amiable, airy landscape for tenor and guitar solos, are more out of a post-1970’s bag harmonically, while “Secret Agent of Change” bases its shifting arrangement around a welcome reggae beat (Bisesi overdubs wood flutes here very tastefully as well).
Bassist Patrick Williams (not the well-known arranger) and drummer Eric Montzka are on point throughout, but guitarist Neal Alger should be singled out for his consistently imaginative work. He and the leader share space and ideas like they’ve played together for years. And check out the surprise, unlisted track at the end of the disc, where Bisesi overdubs himself on saxophones and flutes for a quick but impressive minute.
Review from Jazz Times Magazine
Listening to Nick Bisesi's second recording as a leader, one would hardly suspect that the saxophonist recently switched to tenor after years as an altoist. He sounds every bit the seasoned tenorman, with a tone, mannerisms and overall conception that evoke aural images of, say, Michael Brecker and other post-Coltrane tenorists. But his polished sound and technique, combined with a fine ear and a lively imagination, make him a formidable player in his own right.
Except for the standard "I Remember You," Bisesi also wrote all the compositions on the album except “Organic Combustion,” which evolved as a collective free improvisation. In spite of that track's free construction, however, it and it’s companions exhibit mostly postbop concepts of melody and rhythm, as do the excellent improvisations by the leader and the other frontline soloist, Neal Alger, who varies his guitar sound from acoustic to electric to electronic tastefully. Alger is especially effective in his duo interplay with the tenorist on "I Remember You." Bassist Patrick Williams and drummer Eric Montzka meld with Alger to function as a well-integrated rhythm section that displays an acute sense of the requirements of this highly stimulating and satisfying music.
Review from All About Jazz Magazine
Gemini exudes a sense of energy and freshness. Chicago-based saxophonist Nick Bisesi has done gigs with some of the best names in the business, and his knowledge and the respect for the tradition of jazz is evident; but like many of his contemporaries, he clearly wants to chart his own path.
Bisesi’s crisp and fleshy tenor sound is delineated by some interesting arrangements and compositions. Bassist Patrick Williams and drummer Eric Montzka do a fine job of navigating mixed tempos and a variety of styles. Bisesi’s creative soloing counterpart is Neal Alger, who delivers some snazzy and colorful guitar work that help keep this recording interesting.
The clarity of the music is strengthened by writing that gives each musician the space to make use of their abilities. A good example is heard on “The Garden” where the opening notes give way to a bass solo that leads into an Indian modal groove with each instrument, adding life to the hypnotic flow.
The compositions show the musical path that the saxophonist is traveling, stating “This music represents who I am, where I've been, and where I'm going.” This is translated on the soft ballad “A Short Visit,” the odd metered funk groove of “Gorilla Cookies,” and the jumping ska riff of “Secret Agent of Change”—all of which are thoroughly engaging and highly listenable.
— Mark F. Turner
Review from All Music Guide
Gemini, Nick Bisesi's second CD as a leader, indicates that when it comes to jazz, the tenor saxophonist really gets it. What does he get? A number of things. Bisesi realizes that jazz musicians aren't obligated to play an abundance of overdone warhorses. Except for Johnny Mercer's "I Remember You," everything on this CD is a Bisesi original.
He realizes that while intellect is a valuable part of jazz, feeling and expression are equally -- if not more -- important. He realizes that jazz musicians don't need a Manhattan address to be legitimate; after living in the Big Apple, Bisesi moved to Chicago (where he recorded Gemini in 2005). And he realizes that music other than jazz has merit -- Bisesi has backed his share of R&B and pop artists, although Gemini is essentially a straight-ahead post-bop outing.
The saxman brings a long list of influences to this session, including Wayne Shorter, Joe Farrell, Michael Brecker, Joe Henderson, and John Coltrane -- but make no mistake, Bisesi is his own man.
Bisesi (who forms a pianoless quartet with guitarist Neal Alger, bassist Patrick Williams, and drummer Eric Montzka) learns from his influences, but he doesn't try to sound exactly like them. The saxophonist's individuality comes through on "Gorilla Cookies" (which is funky in a Farrell-ish way) as well as on the playful "Dominick and Joey," the moody "The Garden," and the ska-tinged "Secret Agent of Change."
This release has its abstract, cerebral moments, but again, Bisesi recognizes the importance of feeling -and his lyrical side asserts itself nicely on "Waltz for Gayle," "Undercurrents," and the ballad "A Short Visit." Gemini is a diverse, unpredictable disc that Bisesi can be proud of.
— Alex Henderson
Review from Jazz Review.com
Nick Bisesi is a special character. His music is driven by emotions...real ones, because it's easy to listen and to see that he's part of a generation that wanted to change the world. Nick obviously changes his world, and influences other world musicians with his originality. This man is wildly attracted to all kinds of freedoms and adventures. When it comes to jazz, he knows how to apply his intense choices.
His music is spontaneous and full of creativity. He demonstrates in each song that he writes his strong skill as a composer. Moreover, his compositions are deep but not hard, as it seems to be his personality. Joe Daley and Dave Liebman should feel proud of this talented fellow, once their student.
Nick Bisesi leaves his mark again... The thing about this gentleman is that he believes and intensely loves life, and, whatever he does it's with passion, and that places him over the top of wherever he is or will be.
— Dr. Ana Isabel Ordonez
“My teaching philosophy is greatly influenced by my apprenticeship with David Liebman in New York City. Dave helped me connect deeply to my inner voice - a lesson I carry with me in my teaching. I combine several of his teaching concepts with my own personal experience to create a comprehensive approach that keeps the student energized and excited about the learning process.
While I do have a fundamental framework for curriculum, I customize my approach based on each student's level and goals. We can work the concepts around material they are working with in their current ensembles. I show how the basic elements that I'm teaching apply directly to their "real world" application. This ensures a thorough assimilation of the concepts with the student experiencing tangeable results.
My teaching method incorporates experiential learning with emphasis on artistic development and problem solving. Regardless of experience level, I can teach the student to connect with and develop his/her inner artist. I feel this is the most important part of musical development. With a strong inner guidance, the student will quickly master the basics of technique and be able to focus on making MUSIC.”
Some of the areas addressed in the lessons are:
Saxophone Technique (tone production, dexterity, breathing…etc.)
Artistic Development (personal concept, improvisation, composition…etc.)
Ear Training (playing what you hear, transcription…etc.)
Time Feel (8th-note feel, playing “in-time”, odd meter)
Jazz Theory (chords, scales, voice leading…etc.)
Basic Piano Voicings (minor/major 2-5-1’s, altered chords…etc.)