An improviser with a gorgeously rich, expressive sound, the trombonist, composer, producer and educator Nick Finzer has long been recognized as an expert musical storyteller. But with his new sextet album, Cast of Characters, available February 28th, through his label Outside in Music, he’s crafted his most profound narrative yet, an exploration of the formative figures we meet throughout our lives and how their impact changes over time. “Each of us responds and develops on our journey with the influence of the people we meet,” he says. “We follow, we depart, we react and we grow in myriad ways based on the experiences we encounter.” Cast of Characters is much more than a tribute project or an homage to musical mentors; rather, it’s a probe into the nature of influence, containing a strong message of self-empowerment. As the title of the album’s final track puts it, “We’re more than the sum of our influences.”