Postbop altoist Jim Snidero can be counted on for fine recordings, and Close Up (Milestone) does not disappoint. For his 13th album as a leader, the long-term veteran of Toshiko Akiyoshi's big band uses a small group of pianist David Hazeltine, bassist Paul Gill, drummer Billy Drummond and, on five of the eight tracks, tenorist Eric Alexander. Snidero's improvisations feature an insistent yet not overly exuberant swing, a smooth, expressive tone and a masterful understanding of each composition's harmonies. Alexander demonstrates once again his prodigious control of his instrument, an impressive rhythmic flexibility (especially in his across-the-bar-line phrasing) and, in this instance, an uncanny ability to emulate John Coltrane's late-'50s approach. Hazeltine continues to exhibit a superior melodic sense while placing his notes in just the right spots. With urgent, impeccable playing of their own, Drummond and Gill help make it all happen. Except for two pop standards, Snidero composed all the tunes, reinforcing his growing reputation as an imaginative composer in a variety of straightahead modes, his somewhat Horace Silver-like title composition making a strong case for standard status.