All Finn the family

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Performance: Siblings reunite in Los Alamos Friday night

By Jennifer Garcia

Sibling rivalry often pushes children to try and out-do one another in various activities such as sports, games and academics. For the Finn family, music is no exception.
Ryan and Johnny Finn, along with their sister Madeleine Finn Thibodeaux are musicians and siblings. Despite the fact that they all have their own ways of performing music,  they will regroup to bring the sounds of jazz to Fuller Lodge at 7 p.m. Friday.
The quartet is usually made up of Ryan Finn, band leader, trombonist; Robin Holloway, pianist; Andy Zadrozny, bassist; and drummer Loren Bienvenue. However, Finn’s siblings, percussionsist Johnny; vocalist and trombonist Madeline; saxophonist William will join him on stage, along with drummer Paul Thibodeaux and trumpet player Russell Scharf.
Ryan describes the competition with his brother Johnny as “gentle” and said it helped push the brothers into music.
“High school band, under Pam Towry, kept us both keenly interested and helped to teach us the basic concepts,” he said.
Ryan began playing piano as a young child, but in fourth grade, he picked up the trumpet.
“I gradually switched my way from trumpet to euphonium to tuba. I played tuba through high school and started playing trombone so that I could join the jazz band,” he said. “I studied bass trombone at university. I now play trombone professionally. I also play piano, guitar, bass, tuba, drums, sax, trumpet, flute, clarinet and cello.”
The Finns are definitely part of a musical family. Johnny is a percussionist, Madeline is a vocalist and plays trombone, (she also teaches KinderMusic in New Orleans) their other brother William, is a saxophonist, their father sings and plays classical guitar and their mother taught them songs when they were children. In fact, Madeline’s husband Paul, a New Orleans native, is a jazz drummer.
Ryan graduated from Los Alamos High School in 2000 and moved to New Orleans, where he attended Loyola University and studied music education. He graduated in 2004 with a bachelor’s degree.
He later spent seven years on the island-nation of St. Lucia in the West Indies, where he taught and performed music. While there, he performed with Luther Francois, Emerson Nurse, Allison Marquis, Ricardo Francois, Barbara Cadet and Ronald “Boo” Hinkson, all St. Lucian jazz icons.
Recently, he moved back to Northern New Mexico and formed the Ryan Finn Quartet, which has been performing around the Santa Fe/Los Alamos area for approximately two months.  The quartet includes Johnny, a 1999 LAHS graduate. He specializes in Brazilian and Cuban music and has appeared on five albums with four different groups. He also performed at Fuller Lodge in 2011, with his Arizona-based group, the Samba Project. More recently, he played on the main stage at the St. Lucia Jazz Festival.
Ryan is most inspired by his daughters Maira and Amy.
“They’ll be running around the room while I compose, and the song inevitably takes an unexpected turn. It helps keep things fresh,” he said.
Madeline is also an LAHS graduate, currently living in New Orleans. She studied music education, like Ryan, at Loyola University and obtained her bachelor’s degree in 2008. After teaching public school for two years, she began teaching KInderMusic and along with husband Paul, is currently working on opening a private music school in New Orleans.
Scharf, a Santa Fe High School graduate is no stranger to music. A freelance trumpeter, he has played with various musicians, including Bobby McFerrin, Chris Vadala and members of the Chicago and Pittsburgh symphony orchestras. He regularly plays with New Mexican legends Nosotros, Tobias Rene, Jazz Explosion and Las Vegas event bands.
He attended Carnegie Mellon University and obtained a degree in classical music and orchestral performance, with auxiliary studies in conducting and jazz. After college, he spent six months on Celebrity Cruise Lines ships, where he played for more than six months. He released an album, “Jazz Explosion!” in 2001.
The Ryan Finn Quartet is currently recording its debut album, “Calypso ala Buster.” Ryan describes the sound as a “jazz combo with Caribbean influences (calypso, reggae, zouk, soca, samba, bossa, salsa).”
For more information on the Ryan Finn Quartet, visit ryanfinnmusic.com.