Alex Snydman: Fortunate Action (2013)
How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
Guitarist-turned-drummer Alex Snydman left behind an established East Coast presence in the Massachusetts and New York area jazz scenes for graduate studies at The California Institute of the Arts and, while in Los Angeles, has produced his very first album as leader with the highly audacious Fortunate Action. A student of Joe LaBarbera, Bob Gullotti and Eric Harland, among others, Snydman's assertive, yet finessed style, combined with his talent as a composer, marks this debut a winner on many fronts and goes a long way in establishing this young jazz lion as a future drummer of note.
The albumconsisting of nine fine selections of originals and standards, all featuring Snydman in variations of trio and quartet formats alongside an assortment of young, up- and-coming players like pianists Chris Pattishall, Doug Abramson and Miro Sprague, and accompanied by bassists Alec Derian and Tyler Heydolphilluminates a varied, challenging and very creative musical statement. This is quite evident from Pattishal's opening "In Joy," with a soft-toned introduction that develops quite nicely around a gospel-influenced core.
Abrams' "Cross-Fade" follows, coming out swinging, with a brisk up-tempo march and an ever-constant Snydman presence, for a pronounced performance from the leader. The sounds of a fiery quartet are alive and well on the original "One For Elegua," featuring Carl Clements's salty saxophone voice teeing off on the album's hottest number. In stark contrast, the title tune, another original composition, marches to a different drummer.
Though the majority of the music are original pieces from the band, there are a couple of standards included for good measure and the first is a brief reading of Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn's romantic ballad, "Star Crossed Lovers," with Herbie Hancock's "Tell Me A Bedtime Story" followinga Snydman favorite that serves as the set's defining track.
After the light-textured "Wise Mind" and mid-tempo Abrams burner "Non Linear," the group closes with a dedication to John Coltrane on Snydman's warm- toned "Eternal Recurrence" referring to German philosopher, poet and composer Friedrich Nietzsche's notion of the eternal return of all events. The music is beautifully dark and introspective, and features Abrams' amazing performance on piano as well as capturing Snydman's crashing cymbal accents and handiwork on a finale worth repeated spins.
Snydman's impressive debut is, indeed, a fortunate act marking the emergence of a new talent on the jazz landscape. Snydman and his gang are quite adept at articulating a progressive modern jazz sound in stylish fashion, clearly demonstrating the obvious: that Fortunate Action deserves serious attention from critics and audiences alike.
Track Listing: In Joy; Cross-Fade; One For Elegua; Fortunate Action; Star Crossed Lovers; Tell Me A
Bedtime Story; Wise Mind; Non Linear; Eternal Recurrence.
Personnel: Alex Snydman: drums; Chris Pattishal: piano (1, 5, 6); Doug Abrams: piano (2, 3, 8, 9);
Miro Sprague: piano (4, 7); Alec Derian: bass (1, 3-8); Tyler Heydolph: bass (2, 9); Carl
Clements: tenor saxophone (3), soprano saxophone (8).
Record Label: Self Produced