Saxophonist and composer Nick Mazzarella has been described as "continuing the approach taken by like-minded trailblazing altoists like Eric Dolphy, Ornette Coleman, Henry Threadgill, Oliver Lake, and Gary Bartz” by “seeking to embody the history of the music while pushing it forward into new realms” (Troy Dostert, All About Jazz). He has been a consistent presence in Chicago's music scene since the early 2000s, where his continuous performance schedule has made an aesthetically unique contribution to the city’s rich culture of jazz and improvised music. His trios and quintet have served as the primary vehicles for his endeavors as a composer and bandleader, while as a collaborator or sideman he has performed and recorded with such artists as Tomeka Reid, Joshua Abrams, Hamid Drake, Ingebrigt Håker Flaten, Avreeayl Ra, Rob Mazurek, Geof Bradfield, and Makaya McCraven. Recordings of his original music have been released by Nessa Records, Clean Feed Records, International Anthem Recording Company, and Astral Spirits, and he has performed throughout the United States and Scandinavia, as well as in parts of Africa and the Middle East.
In addition to his activities as a performing musician, Mazzarella has contributed to the vibrancy of the Chicago jazz community by working as a concert series presenter since 2008. He currently curates two ongoing concert series in Chicago—the Anagram Series, presented weekly at Elastic Arts in Avondale, and the Ratchet Series, presented monthly at Cafe Mustache in Logan Square.