A talented jazz pianist and keyboardist, the two time
Emmy Award winning multifaceted Nick Manson is also a composer, arranger and producer who has excelled in several fields. His piano playing is swinging, lyrical, consistently inventive, and quite individual. Throughout his career, Nick's performances are both accessible and creative, appealing to a wide audience yet remaining true to himself.
Born and raised in the Seattle area, Nick remembers his early years. "My grandfather was a classical pianist so I heard classical music early on. When I was ten I switched from a home organ which I hated to the piano, having nine years of classical piano lessons. I first heard jazz when I was in the seventh grade and enjoyed seeing the high school stage band. I was really into big bands and that is how I got into jazz, listening to the music of Clare Fischer, Buddy Rich, Count Basie and Duke Ellington. I was also inspired by the Beatles and Elton John to want to make my own music." While in high school, Nick attended the Stan Kenton clinics, developing his skills as a composer and an arranger, writing his first big band arrangements at 14 years of age. He competed at all-state festivals in Washington and remembers his piano teacher giving him a copy of Chick Corea's Light As A Feather which made a strong impression. He also picked up some very valuable playing experience in an unusual way. "My parents had a restaurant. When I was a sophomore in high school, they would hire all of the top local jazzmen from the Northwest with the condition that they would let me play piano. So I had a chance to gig three nights a week as a teenager. It was an invaluable learning experience."
After high school, Nick Manson attended, on scholarship, the Berklee College Of Music. He was inspired and influenced greatly by Dave Mash and George Garzone in composition, arranging and improvisation. When he was 19 he moved to Los Angeles where he played with Lenny Kravitz's first band and attended the Dick Grove School. He became adept at using MIDI and electronics, and was one of the first to play, in concert, Yamaha's prototype of the DX7.
After moving back to Seattle, Nick became very busy doing production work while also playing jazz and creating music in a variety of settings. During his periods in Seattle and back in Los Angeles for a decade, he was quite productive, producing, arranging and performing music on CDs and for films, television and commercials. He won two Emmy Awards for his work on the children's television show "How 'Bout That", for best piece of music in a musical segment and for best musical production in a half-hour television show. He arranged thousands of titles for the Muzak corporation and currently has original music playing internationally on Muzak, DMX and Spafax. For much of a decade, Nick was a major player in the development and design of Atmosphere, Stylus, Trilogy and Stylus RMX for Spectrasonics virtual instrument plug-ins. He has owned and operated his own recording studio for the past 20 years and runs his own CD label, Manasus Music.
Nick has been a guest lecturer and clinician at many schools (including USC, the Los Angeles Music Academy, Iolani School in Honolulu, Bremerton Community College, ASU, Arizona Western College, Northwestern Michigan College and Edmonds Community College) and he developed and taught the music theory program for audio majors at the Art Institute of Seattle in the early 1990s. Currently Nick is a professor at Mesa Community College (Mesa, AZ) in the Jazz Studies program, teaching jazz composition, arranging, playing ensembles and music business courses. Nick has often been a favorite featured artist on Jim Wilke's "Jazz in the Northwest" (KPLU), Don Gordon's Show (KIPO) and Blaise Lantana's 9 O'clock Speciall (KJZZ). Of additional interest; Nick's trios and quartets have performed dozens of times for Microsoft's functions as well as Bill Gates' wedding and 20th high school reunion.
Even during his busiest periods working in commercial music, Nick composed, recorded and performed jazz. Everywhere from the Kennedy Center to the Concord Jazz Festival, Jazz Port Townsend, The Telluride Jazz Festival, The Paradise Valley Jazz Party, The Baked Potato, Vibrato Grill, The Jazz Bakery and Seattle's Jazz Alley, also touring in Europe, South American and Asia. He co-wrote the gospel standard "Jesus, Mighty Fortress" with Terry Clark and Roby Duke.
"Every time I play, I want to sound like myself and add to the legacy of improvised music. That is my main goal; to sound like who I am as a person and to play music that both challenges me and that people will enjoy."
Nick has recorded and/or performed with many jazz, pop, gospel artists and renown studio musicians including:
|Jeff Kashiwa (The Rippingtons)|
|Kim Richmond Concert Jazz Orchestra|
|The Nairobi Trio|
|Al McKay (Earth, Wind & Fire)|
|Will Calhoun (Living Color)|
|Zoro (The Drummer)|
|Bruce Conte (TOP)|
|Tom E. Politzer (TOP)|
|Jerry Cortez (TOP)|
|Roger Smith (TOP)|
|Tommy Dorsey Orchestra|
|Mike Barone Big Band|