Fantastic Franzini


Leslie Eisenberg

Franzini playing bass at Guitar Night 2016, a show many regard as one of the best, if not the best Guitar Night ever. “That was a great show because we had a lot of good musicians playing that year.” said Franzini.

Nick Shepard, Staff Writer

The Hollis-Brookline music department has seen long lists of extraordinarily talented students in the past decade. One of them is multi-instrumentalist, composer, and musical visionary, Nick Franzini ‘18.

Franzini, or better known by most people as ‘Zini’, has been involved in a number of musical projects since his freshman year at HB in 2014. He has spent innumerable hours throughout the last four years dedicating his time to playing and creating all types of music, whether it’s heavily structured funk/fusion pieces or Latin jazz arrangements.  

Franzini’s musical journey, however, did not start in high school. For ‘Zini’, it all started in middle school. He was in General Music class as an eighth grader when he took an interest in guitar. Franzini would’ve never guessed that five years later, now a senior, he would be selected to participate in this year’s New Hampshire Jazz All State Festival as a bass player. “Going into high school, I thought I would take the guitar class” said Franzini, “But they were all full so I wasn’t able to take it as a freshman.”

It was band director Mr. Dave Umstead that suggested to Franzini that he enroll in Jazz Band. Through that, he was introduced to classmates like Isaac Wimmer, and picked up the bass guitar. “They showed up as good musicians,” said Umstead. “They had a lot of natural things going on and a lot of musical things especially.”

Franzini has been a member of the Honors Jazz Band since 2016 and Mr. Umstead said he’s seen him improve in many aspects. “He’s improved his [music] reading ability a great deal for one, and in terms of jazz playing, his ability to walk bass lines has developed over that time too… There’s an art to that,” said Umstead. Franzini’s positive contribution to the Honors Jazz Band has not gone unnoticed by students either. “He’s absolutely essential,” said trombonist Jack Sinclair ‘19, “without Zini there is no music in the world.”

If Franzini isn’t spending his time playing for school-organized ensembles, the Manchester Community Music School Jazz Band, or jamming with friends, he can be found in his house or his classmate’s basement experimenting with recording softwares and new song ideas. “I’ve had time to think about new musical ideas daily…The best part about being a musician is the freedom and the bonding.” said Franzini.

It is when he is creating new material that being a multi-instrumentalist comes in handy, for he is capable of producing sounds otherwise impossible by just one person. In addition to his great bass talents, Franzini has superb ability on the guitar, some foundation on the piano, and utilizes his secret drumming chops. With all of his natural flair, Franzini spends his time creating music that could be filed under his favorite genres. “I like a lot of genres, but funk and fusion are my favorites,” he said. “Zini’s original material is just brilliant,” said Honors Jazz Band trombonist Dan Aulbach ‘21. “I often look forward to hearing what he produces. It’s very impressive.”

Franzini has also been a very active live performer over the last few years, playing in a total of seven Guitar Nights and themed shows at HB. Franzini has been known to spend most of his time on stage out of the spotlight, but his presence is often too captivating for people to look away. “Watching him live is mesmerizing,” said Ari Friedman ‘20, an annual attendee of Guitar Night. He also performs locally with multiple jazz combos and spends time as an instructor at the Nashua Community Music School giving private bass lessons.  

When thinking about his influences, funk fusion bassists like Gary Willis come to mind. “I’ve had many influences as a guitar player, too,” said Franzini. “A couple of the large ones are Plini and Cory Wong.” Along with his self-taught ability on his instruments, he has taken private lessons under the instruction of local bassist John Hunter. “I’ve learned a lot from Umstead as well,” Nick said. “He’s been a great instructor and is very knowledgeable.”

As for the future, Franzini is looking to attend a college, possibly in the Boston area, to study engineering later this year. He plans on minoring in music because “he likes it” and plans on working as an engineer in the future, while gigging on the side. Be on the lookout for Nick Franzini’s performances here at HB or around the community, for he is a talent you will not want to miss.