The art of listening to music depends as much upon when you listen to it as what type of music you hear. Sitting in a church while the choir sings is probably not the best time to expect to hear Metallica's "Enter Sandman" or Gwen Stefani's "Hollaback Girl," to name two examples from popular music. However, Sunday morning is the perfect time to listen to saxophonist Andy Snitzer's Some Quiet Place. The album was originally released in 1999 but is being reissued on Native Language records in hopes of finding a new, more receptive audience.
Hopefully it will, as Snitzer sounds fresh and contemporary. While technology has made strides since 1999, this material sounds relevant. The one "new" track is "Passion Play," featuring a nice interchange between Snitzer and Chuck Loeb on guitar. Snitzer's tenor sax really soars here. But there's no jarring change in his technique on the album's lead-off, "As I Was Before," where Snitzer lays back a bit while his self-described mentor, Bob James, and fellow keyboard whiz Phillipe Saisse take the lead.
In the press materials, Native Language emphasizes that Some Quiet Place is a forerunnner of "chill music" (ugh), quite probably because of the presence of Chris Botti's trumpet on "On Extended Wing." Botti hosts a syndicated radio program featuring chill music. Why do record labels compulsively categorize artists like so many varieties of canned soup? Let the musician and the music find their audience without the buzz words and name-dropping nods to current trends.
The Philadelphia-born leader is currently on tour as part of Paul Simon's band. As a sideman, Snitzer has played with the Rolling Stones, Aretha Franklin, Eric Clapton and many others. He's also a technically proficient music editor and a expert in the world of Pro Tools. Snitzer is an accomplished musician who doesn't need public relations hype to demonstate how vast his horizons are.
Andy Snitzer plays a lush and soulful saxophone. With Some Quiet Place he's put together a solid album of well-crafted jazz. Calling the music "trippy" seems like a move calculated to grab an audience that only likes to listen to jazz as long as it isn't called "jazz." Some Quiet Place is an exciting and skillful step in that journey.
Track Listing: As I Was Before; Only With You; A Few Wild Nights; Passion Play; Loving You; Boundless; Some Quiet Place; On Extended Wing; Losing Summer; For Joel; Testimony.
Personnel: Andy Snitzer: tenor saxophone, keyboards, synth bass; Rhodes; synthesizers; drums;
percussion; alto saxophone, programming; Bob James: piano; Phillipe Saisse: Rhodes,
clavinet, shaker, piano, organ; Paul Livant: guitar; Jon Ossman: bass; Shawn Pelton: drums;
David Charles: percussion; Chuck Loeb: guitar; Chris Botti: trumpet; Mitch Cooley: guitar;
Tony Kadleck: trumpet; Birch Johnson: trombones; David Lebolt: organ; Bernard Davis:
drums; Fab: synth programming; Jerry Brooks: bass; Brian Dunne: drums; Jim Hynes:
flugelhorn; Michael Davis: trombone; Larry Saltzman: guitars.
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already. SOOOO... he started me off LP's by Oscar Peterson, Art Tatum, Bud Powell, Errol Garner, Bill Evans, Monty Alexander, Charlie Byrd, and Dave Brubeck... does it get any better than that? ...No, it doesn't. I was hooked!!
I met and had a master class with the late music giant John Lewis, leader of the Modern Jazz Quartet! This was at CCNY in 1977. I was blessed! It was an incredible class... how could it have been anything else?!?!
The first jazz record I bought was...I bought numerous records from my friend at the record store, as mentioned above. He introduced me to nothing but music giants/legends! I think The Dave Brubeck Quartet, Greatest Hits, was actually the first one.
My advice to new listeners... study first--understand the rudiments--solfeggio, keys, scales, and basic chords. Read a book or take a class that includes the study of chord progressions, especially in jazz. It should ideally be a piano class so you can play multiple notes together. Have a good EAR or else it's not really worth it in my view...to become a musician, a good EAR for music is about as fundamental as breathing! Learn to read chord charts--i.e., lead sheets - wherein you play various voicings of the chords--major, minor, dominant 7th (alterations of these, you can learn over time - the basic chords are most important for starters), plus the melody, on the piano or keyboard. If you have to read the exact notes, then it's not the same as actually internalizing it & getting it all into your head. If you can do this, I think you're ready not only for listening to jazz, but understanding many concepts of it! Of course...anyone can listen to jazz... but I think it's so good to also have a grasp of it.