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The small Florida-based Refined Records label is known for its eclectic mix of acoustic music with intriguing instrumentation, as well as a Django-esque approach, which includes delightful recordings of some of the top gypsy guitarists alive today. Snappy Hour is the debut by The Snappdaddys: four seasoned session musicians with impressive pedigrees in jazz, film and even (gasp) pop; they've worked with everyone from Frank Sinatra, Quincy Jones and Louis Bellson to Dan Hicks and his Hot Licks and The Who.
Several elements make this recording "snappy," as billed. For one thing, the nine original tunes (out of eleven total) are tuneful and substantive. They were all written by Stan Ayeroff, a wonderful guitarist and arranger who assembled his "musical dream team" for this release. The Snapdaddys include Sid Page, whose violin is sweet and blessedly on pitch; Brad Dutz, who makes creative and whimsical use of percussion and mallets; and Dave Stone, a fine first-call bassist.
The playing here is uniformly expert, tight and swinging, with an overall relaxing, happifying effect, even on bluesy tunes like "Midnight Blue," a film noir-ish showcase for Dan Higgins's expressive tenor. Another highlight is the group's tongue-in-cheek take on "Night and Day," which blows the dust off the overdone tune.
In sum, this gem of a disc is so mood-altering that it's nearly pharmaceutical. Snappy Hour is highly recommended for the winter blahs and other seasonal ailments.
Track Listing: Zander's Dream; Leslie Leaps In; Fandango for Django; Hopeful Hearts; Brave Enough for Love; Emily Jo; It Don't Mean a Thing; Gypsy Strut; Midnight Blue; Night and Day; Opus Groupus.
Personnel: Stan Ayeroff: acoustic guitars; Sid Page: jazz violin; Dan Higgins: soprano & tenor saxophones, flute, clarinet;
Dave Stone: acoustic bass; Brad Dutz: percussion, vibes, marimba; Leslie Lashinsky: bassoon (6).
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.