Jim Snidero: Strings (2003)
By staying in touch with his roots as a hard blowing alto saxophonist and leader of razor-sharp small bands, Jim Snidero has successfully married a ten-piece string section and a conventional jazz quartet. His arrangements of six original compositions (including the three-part “River Suite”) and two standards entail a constant shifting between the relative freedom of improvisation, and the tighter organization made necessary by the larger ensemble.
The recording’s primary soloist, Snidero consistently radiates excitement and a beboper’s willingness to take risks on ballads (“Theme For Ernie,” “Forever Gone”) and upbeat material (“Slipping Away,” “Ventura”). These liberties are enhanced by the fact that he never allows the strings to become too dense or overly prominent—yet, his writing for the section is often full, lush, and beautiful. During “It’s The Talk Of The Town,” for example, they lay out for an entire chorus, then return and serve as a muted foil for the leader’s flight.
Another important factor in the recording’s success is an excellent, responsive rhythm section. Pianist Renee Rosnes (who contributes several fine solos), bassist Paul Gill, and drummer Billy Drummond are just right for Snidero’s elastic group conception, mixing a flowing, unforced sense of motion with more concentrated swing. Drummond, in particular, is brilliant. At times his brushes on the snare or a stick to the ride cymbal are barely audible; in other instances, like on “Torrent,” his persistent accents to the drums take charge and confront the ensemble and soloists.
Track Listing: 1. Slipping Away; 2. Dawn; 3. On The Bank; 4. Torrent; 5. Theme For Ernie; 6. Forever Gone; 7. Ventura; 8. It's The Talk Of The Town.
Personnel: Jim Snidero--alto saxophone, flute; Renee Rosnes--piano; Paul Gill--bass; Billy Drummond--drums; Laura Seaton (concertmaster), Mark Feldman, Joyce Hammann, Cenovia Cummings, Paul Woodiel, Sue Lorentsen--violins; Ralph Farris, Kenji Bunch--violas; Thomas Ulrich, Mary Wooten--cellos. Conducted by Walt Weiskopf.