Friday, January 15, 2016

Jim Snidero - Main Street (2015)

A determinedly straightahead alto saxophonist, Jim Snidero staffs his Main Street quartet with determinedly adventurous young musicians—and gets them swinging along with him. It’s no surprise to hear that pianist Fabian Almazan, bassist Linda Oh and drummer Rudy Royston have the meat-and-potatoes bop chops that a Snidero record requires; it is, however, invigorating.

Those musicians sneak in bits and pieces of their own conceptions, too. Snidero’s soulful blues “Post Time Saratoga” features scorchers from Oh and Snidero, and behind them, Royston’s latticework marks him as the best decorative drummer in the business. (He continues to prove it throughout, topping himself with a reason-defying solo on the closing “The Streets of Laredo.”) Almazan matches that artistry with subtle figures and note choices that fatten up his comp lines, then bursts forth with a solo that explodes both the tune’s rhythmic and harmonic framework. He does the same on “Duluth at Noon,” “Walla Walla” and “The Streets of Laredo,” making him the album’s MVP.

Oh has tricks up her sleeve, too. When Royston and Almazan ratchet up to double time in “Duluth,” she steadfastly maintains the original tempo even as it displaces her accents. She also finds new ways to express the pulse with every bar of “Las Vegas Tango,” and offers perhaps the album’s best improvisation with her nuanced light touch on “Autumn in New York.”

Snidero, meanwhile, maintains the consistent gifts that have marked his 30-plus-year career: juicy sax work crafted with soul, flawless tone and a keen sense of narrative (his solo on “The Streets of Laredo” rivals Oh for album best). His compositions are impressive, too, eking surprises out of licks in “Duluth at Noon” and building a durable melody out of a mixed meter and an R&B lick on “Born in Redwood City.” Main Street is a solid addition to his résumé.

Jim Snidero, alto sax
Fabian Almazan, piano
Linda Oh, bass
Rudy Royston, drums

Duluth At Noon
Post Time Saratogo
Las Vegas Tango
Oxford Square
Autumn In New York
Born In Redwood City
Walla Walla
The Streets Of Laredo