Saxophonist James Finn was born in Brooklyn in 1956. Legendary saxophonist JR Monterose was a crucial early mentor; later teachers included Sir Roland Hanna, Benny Golson, Jimmy Heath, and Andrew Cyrille. But despite his background in straight-ahead jazz, and a grounding in many other styles (he paid his dues in countless blues and funk bands, and later studied classical and contemporary music), Finn’s central passion was for free jazz in the tradition of Coltrane’s post-1965 work. A move to upstate New York put Finn in contact with two like-minded figures, pianist John Esposito and the brilliant, ill-fated multi-instrumentalist Arthur Rhames, who became close friends and playing partners.
Finn emerged on disc unusually late, with the powerful Opening the Gates (Cadence, 2004), a trio album with Dominic Duval and Whit Dickey. It was followed in quick succession by Faith in a Seed (CIMP, 2004) and Plaza de Toros (Clean Feed, 2005), and a series of concert recordings issued on Finn’s own CDR label Gingko Leaf: The Last Matador, Into the Afterworld, Life at the Via Della Pace, Inside Eye and In Stravinsky’s House.