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Guitarist Bob Sneider, based in Rochester, New York, won two Downbeat awards for "Best Performance" before he was out of college, then went on to perform with Houston Person, Freddie Cole, Nnenna Freelon, and Jon Faddis; he also toured with Chuck Mangione for four years. Now teaching jazz guitar at the prestigious Eastman School of Music, Sneider is a classy player with a honeyed tone and smooth, melodic lines. Out of the Darkness is a good title for a CD where dissonance is an accent, rather than a lifestyle; listening to it is like taking a springtime ride with the top down.
On Sneider's second outing for Sons of Sound , he appears in different settings - duo with percussion, bebop quintet, trio - each revealing a different color in his extensive palette. His writing gifts are especially evident on the burning title tune and the tender "Waltz for Aleta," and his addition of an intriguing head-twist to "Love Walked In." There's a good mix of electric and acoustic guitar, and the pacing is a naturalistic, satisfying sequence of density and mood. A string quartet enhances two tracks without adding any of that cloying sweetness; in fact, "Ev'ry Time We Say Goodbye" is a highlight of the album, along with the graceful takes on "Isfahan," "Pyramid," and Jobim's "Dreamer." Bassist Bob Stata, pianist Paul Hofmann and drummer Mike melito are consistently first-rate. The last track, Kenny Burrell's "Lyrestro," is actually a concert video, playable on Quicktime 3.0, which my antique equipment will not accommodate; but while I can't report on the audio, the video reveals that a good time was had by all. It certainly sounds like it. A thoroughly enjoyable CD.
Track Listing: Isfahan, Out of the Darkness, David's Tune, Waltz for Aleta, Love Walked
In, Ev'ry Time We Say Goodbye, Vivo Sonhando (Dreamer), If I Had You,
You'd Be So Nice to Come Home to, Pyramid, Lyresto
Personnel: Bob Sneider (electric and classical guitar), John Sneider (trumpet), Paul
Hofmann (piano), Bob Stata (bass), Mike Melito (drums), Tony Padilla
(percussion), string quartet: Diedre Foley (violin), Heather Netz (violin),
Adrienne Sommerville (viola), Christoher Hutton (cello), strings arranged
by David Ravello
As a songwriter and vocalist, I love jazz for the experience of being in the center of intense creativity. It is the most potent form of music for keeping the artist and the audience in the 'now. Being in the moment is essential for humans, and we need help in learning how to do that. As a songwriter, I need the depth of musicality that jazz voicings can give my stories. My songs seem light and whimsical, but the message is not.
I met my main collaborator, Mark Fitzgibbon, at one of his gigs. I needed to do my first original album, and his playing was masterful, robust, and beautiful. At the time, I didn't realize how suited we were as a team. We're onto our 4rth album together.
My advice to new listeners is to listen to a really clear and simple version of a song so you can then hear what the musicians are doing and enjoy their creativity and musicality. Also, you have to see jazz live to appreciate it fully. You'll never feel it the same way listening to a CD or online. You need the vibration to go through your body to really get it!
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