Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Bob Sneider and Joe Locke: Nocturne for Ava

Origin Arts
By Ric Bang • Originally published in The Davis Enterprise, 6.3.09
Buy CD: Nocturne for Ava

Some of the best jazz released is what I call “stealth” jazz: the music composed for and used in movie soundtracks.

Unfortunately, the better the movie, the less one is likely to pay close attention to the soundtrack; its purpose is to accent what's happening on the screen ... so, in a sense, if the score does its job properly, it's self-defeating.

That's what soundtrack albums are for.

When you list the best movies you've seen, more often than not they've had superior background music; think of Lawrence of Arabia, Jaws or Titanic. True, those didn't have jazz backgrounds, but dozens of others did, and many fall into the film noir genre. The Thomas Crown Affair, Laura, Afterglow, I Want to Live, The Black Dahlia, Anatomy of a Murder, Last Tango in Paris and Blow Up owed much to composers such as Michel LeGrand, Raskin/Mercer, Mark Isham, Johnny Mandel, John Sneider, Duke Ellington, Gato Barbieri and Herbie Hancock, respectively.

For this album, Bob Sneider and Joe Locke arranged “covers” of tunes from these films. Additionally, Locke includes a tribute to Ava Gardner (“Nocturne for Ava”), who was featured in many noir projects during her career.

The octet used for this release features John Sneider (trumpet), Locke (vibes), Grant Stewart (tenor sax), Sneider (guitar), Paul Hoffman (piano), Martin Wind (bass), Tim Horner (drums) and Luisito Quintero (percussion); the result is a primo group. Their music is smooth as silk, and each track masterfully brings back memories of the films in question.

All in all, a wonderful album.

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