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Interviews

Jim Snidero: A Tale Of Taste

By Published: July 8, 2013
The Savant albums, as of this interview, go from the organ-centric Tippin' (Savant, 2007) to the powerful-and-wondrous Stream Of Consciousness (Savant, 2013). Snidero recalls how his association with the label began: "I was working with [guitarist] Paul Bollenback
Paul Bollenback
Paul Bollenback
b.1959
guitar
a lot, and with [pianist/organist] Mike LeDonne
Mike LeDonne
Mike LeDonne
b.1956
piano
, who's another friend of mine that I've known for 30 years. I've learned a tremendous amount from him, and he's a fantastic musician. I worked a lot with him at [New York's ] Smoke, with the organ group on Tuesday nights, and Paul had been doing that, so that was the genesis of the first Savant date—Tippin'. And drummer Tony Reedus
Tony Reedus
1959 - 2008
drums
was on that record; another longtime friend who died 4 years ago. So that band was a working band up at Smoke. I was subbing for Eric Alexander up there, but I was up there a lot. So, we just went into the studio, and Mike actually introduced me to Joe Fields [of Savant]."

Each of the three albums that followed Tippin' has its own identity, but they're all bound together by the presence of guitar. "I hate to use the word 'different'" Snidero says, regarding his decision to remove piano/organ from the equation and stick with guitar, "but [I wanted] something that would put me in a different space. It started with Crossfire (Savant, 2009), and then Interface (Savant, 2011), and now this last record—Stream Of Consciousness.. One of the main reasons that I've stuck with guitar for these three records is the acoustic guitar. When I heard Paul play the acoustic guitar on Crossfire, I said 'oh, now that's what I want on the next record, and the next record' because I love the sound of that instrument; especially when he's playing it. I think it goes really well with the alto saxophone. There's something about the timbre of the alto and the acoustic guitar that really complement each other. So I wrote all the material on Interface, and four of those pieces are for acoustic guitar. And they're not all slow either; there's one tune called "Viper" that's a fast modal burner, and I have acoustic guitar on that, so I was trying to find different ways to use the acoustic guitar. I really love that sound."

Snidero's passion for the acoustic carried over onto his brilliantly bold Stream Of Consciousness, but only in a small way. He notes, "I was planning on using a little bit more acoustic guitar on this record, but in the studio we ended up switching to electric guitar on one tune that was supposed to be acoustic, and then we ended up not using one tune that we recorded [with acoustic]. There were going to be eight or nine tunes in total, with four featuring acoustic, but it turned out to only be two."

Many jazz artists tend to become more conservative as they move on down the line, changing their status from newbie to veteran, but the exact opposite seems to be happening with Snidero; Stream Of Consciousness is his most dazzlingly daring album to date. It showcases every aspect of Snidero's personality, pushes at the walls of convention, and features one of the hottest rhythm teams he's ever used. His praise for this duo—drummer Rudy Royston
Rudy Royston
Rudy Royston

drums
and bassist Linda Oh
Linda Oh
Linda Oh

bass
—is immediate and high. With regard to Royston, he enthusiastically notes, "he's a fabulous drummer; a really amazing drummer." Of Oh he says, "Linda is really very good in a lot of ways. She's a great bassist and she's got really good ears; she's not afraid to go with the moment."

Post-bop, funk and the great beyond all bubble to the surface at one time or another, but it's that last category that really makes this record stand out. On songs like "Fear One," Snidero explores new avenues that prove to be ear-opening. He notes, "I had started experimenting with having different tonalities going on at one time, and "Fear One" is really something that [came out of that]. That concept is something that I'm going to explore more in the future. The band is in two keys the entire time. There's no bass on it, but when we've been playing it live, I've had the bassist playing. Linda did it when we did it in New York but, for the record, I wanted it a little bit more open. I had Paul playing in C during the changes on the A sections; he stays on those exact chord voicings, which are "Cherokee" in C, but I'm playing in Bb the whole time. There's something about that sound. It took me a long time to decide that I wanted to have those two keys working together. Most musicians would say, 'the band's in C, but you're in Bb? How does that work!?,' but I'm telling you it works; It sounds good, and I'm not exactly sure why yet, but I'm definitely going to start experimenting with that more. I'm really interested in finding ways to stretch the limits without being overt about it. For me, I feel that if you go too far, then it's not fun to listen to anymore; it's not as interesting."


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