If you aren't hip to the name Alex Snydman yet don't worry as you soon will be!
Brent Black / @CriticalJazz
Alex Snydman is not exactly a newbie but he has come out of the shadows to release a stellar debut as a drummer and leader of his own somewhat eclectic ensemble taking the sonic road less traveled with Fortunate Action.
"Sleeper" as defined by Wikipedia:
A work that obtains unexpected recognition or success.
Thus far Fortunate Action is garnering wide spread critical acclaim. In the motion picture industry one would say Snydman has "good buzz" but unlike the movie trailer you might see at home on the small screen, Snydman's release runs well past the :30 second time limit of most trailers with one of the more consistent release of the year. Couple Snydman's technical proficiency with his prowess as a composer and arranger and Fortunate Action fully develops the more conceptual nature of the project dealing with the life affirming choices of love and happiness from both a creative and highly personal perspective.
Snydman began his musical odyssey as a guitarist before switching to drums and perhaps it is the initial training as a guitarist that allows him to fully grasp the rhythmic concepts of lyrical flow and how they are intertwined with the harmonic development of a particular piece. A particular influence on Snydman would be that of drumming sensei Eric Harland whose influence is unmistakable yet flipped so that Snydman has the adequate room to display his own artistic voice and avoid the pitfall of simply doing a riff on another drummer's groove. Tunes such as "One For Elegua" along with the title track "Fortunate Action" and "Eternal Recurrence" seem to channel an incredibly deep zen like quality that permeates this release. Subtle nuances abound within each tune while occasionally creating a virtual second melodic line interwoven within the main theme of each piece. The use of three piano players would be a harmonic train wreck for some but instead we find an elegant synergy of collective thought and a resulting magical cohesion often missing from similar ambitious releases.
Most jazz aficionados are aware of the unspoken division between the straight ahead and contemporary instrumental camps that have so fractured the improvisational music we refer to as jazz here in the United States. Alex Snydman is one of only a handful of players gifted enough to successfully navigate that treacherous middle ground with flair, finesse and a deceptively subtle panache that makes Fortunate Action the sonic gift that keeps on giving.
The perfect release? Damn close...4 1/2 stars!
Tracks: In Joy; Cross-Fade; One For Elegua; Fortunate Action; Star Crossed Lovers; Tell Me A Bedtime Story; Wise Mind; Non Linear; Eternal Recurrence.
Personnel: Alex Snydman: drums (1-9); Chris Pattishall: piano (1,5,6); Doug Abrams: piano (2,3,8,9); Miro Sprague: piano (4,7); Alec Derian: bass (1,3,4,5,6,7,8); Tyler Heydolph: bass (2,9); Carl Clements: tenor & soprano saxophone (3,8).