For some inexplicable reason, the alto saxophone has fallen out of favor over the past few years. Just think about it, how many name alto players can you rattle off in one minute? Probably only thought about by a select few astute followers, Jim Snidero should be better known than he currently is. It's not like he has a modest number of recordings under his name, because that's not the case. Although documented on smaller independents such as Criss Cross Jazz, Red Records, and Ken Music, Snidero's catalog is full of bright exemplars brimming with aggressive hard bop. Now with Snidero's exploration of the music of Joe Henderson (which is documented on his second effort for Double-Time) he has surely upped the ante in terms of his own recorded milestones while also serving us a no-nonsense tribute to a modern jazz master.
By the very nature of the instrument he plays, Snidero avoids any attempts to merely copy Henderson. Furthermore, he has chosen his material wisely, with "Recorda-Me" being the only number likely to be familiar to the novice. Snidero even opts to work the arrangement of "Serenity" that originally appeared on a Pepper Adams date from the late '60s, one that lets the tune sprawl out at a more relaxed pace. "If" comes from Larry Young's classic Unity and benefits from the full front line that includes Snidero, trumpeter Joe Magnarelli, and trombonist Conrad Herwig. Later period Henderson also gets the nod by the inclusion of "Black Narcissus" and "Afro-Centric," the former providing an ideal showcase for Snidero's distinctive sound, which is marked by a clean and sharp attack that avoids being too acerbic.
Much should be said of Snidero's cohorts too. A better rhythm section could not be asked for, as provided by pianist David Hazeltine, bassist Dennis Irwin, and veteran drummer Kenny Washington, who over the span of many shared sessions has developed quite a hook-up with Snidero. Magnarelli and Herwig are also distinctive soloists in their own right and the full sound they lend Snidero's lucid arrangements separate this effort from your average tribute date. So whether you look at it as a consequential set of Joe Henderson tunes or as an accomplished Jim Snidero album or find it to be a little of both, you simply can't go wrong with this set's well-placed intentions.