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Bob Sneider-Joe Locke Film Noir Project: Nocturne for Ava

C. Michael Bailey By

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In 2006, guitarist Bob Sneider and vibraphonist Joe Locke assembled a collective devoted to the jazz soundtrack of noir fiction called The Film Noir Project. That same year they released Fallen Angel (Sons of Sound). Switching labels, Sneider and Locke release their second Film Noir Project installment in Nocturne for Ava, honoring the brunette bombshell Ava Gardner and her contributions to the noir genre like the film adaptation of Ernest Hemingway's The Killers.

It is a subtle hypnotism Sneider and Locke perform by naming their collective The Film Noir Project. Billed as being dedicated to the spirit of the jazz soundtrack as part of film noir sets up certain expectations. Cleverly, The Film Noir Project immediately stimulates aural images of smoky saxophones and martini-bright brass complementing the environs of West Coast crime in the '40s and '50s. While this expectation is partially realized, The Project polishes the concept with brass cleaner to a high sheen.

Nocturne for Ava consists of eleven selections, eight of which are reinterpretations of noir soundtracks with the remainder being stylized realizations of the genre. The Project is nominally an octet, or sub-atomically a trumpet- saxophone quintet with guitar, vibes, and percussion. Sneider, Locke, and percussionist Luisito Quintero are the added degrees of freedom to this quintet equation that provide the noir atmospherics. An early example is Sneider and Locke weaving a gossamer spell beneath John Sneider's muted trumpet on Mark Isham's "Afterglow." The pair state the piece's extended melody languidly while drummer Tim Horner (using brushes) and pianist Paul Hofmann, equally languid, add color and grit.

Herbie Hancock's "Theme From Blow Up" is deftly stated by Hofmann and Locke and propelled by drummer Horner and percussionist Quintero. The musical effect is of a fast moving urban landscape like that of the movie's center of London. Of the originals, Sneider's "Black Dalia" and Locke's title piece readily mesh with the directed compositions in both execution and the atmosphere that results. The theme of film noir soundtrack works well and this group ably interprets the theme.


Track Listing: Last Tango In Paris; Afterglow; Theme From Blow Up; Laura; Black Dahlia; Windmills Of Your Mind; Nocturne For Ava; Kiss Me, Kill Me; I Want To Live Main Theme; Flirtibird; Los Feliz.

Personnel: John Sneider: trumpet; Grant Stewart: tenor; Bob Sneider: guitar; Joe Locke: vibes; Paul Hofmann: piano; Martin Wind: bass; Tim Horner: drums; Luisito Quintero: percussion.

Title: Nocturne for Ava | Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: Origin Records

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