Alex Snydman

Fortunate Action

Percussionist-composer Alex Snydman’s debut release, Fortunate Action, is the culmination of much thought and dedicated patience with a focus on developing are repertoire with like-minded musicians. Snydman states, “I wanted to capture a synthesis of the many musicians I have grown very close to over the last six years.” The CD has seven original compositions by various group members and two jazz classics. Snydman sums the theme of the project, “This project was catalyzed by a notion that I find very inspiring; I refer to this concept as ‘fortunate action.’ This idea represents the exponential positive ripples that occur when we listen to our ‘inner voice’ that is encouraging us to pursue our dreams and make the strong yet sometimes difficult decision to follow a path of love, and synergistic co-creation.”

The musicians heard on Fortunate Action share Snydmans “co-creation” concept and deliver a focused project that is strong in the roots of jazz, but displays a unique ability to stretch the vocabulary to fresh syntaxes. The piano chair in the project features three pianist; Chris Pattishall (tracks 1, 5, 6), Doug Abrams (tracks 2, 3, 8, 9), and Miro Sprague (tracks 4, 7). Alex expounds, “I wanted to capture a synthesis of my time in Massachusetts that truly honored the various groups I have been a part of.” The bass foundation is shared by Alec Derian (tracks 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8) and Tyler Heydolph (tracks 2, 9). The trio sound is augmented by Carl Clements on tenor saxophone (3) and soprano saxophone (8). Although the ensemble changes personal for every track, the music is consistent and is even given a fresh “edge” by the various changing personal. Snydman’s and Abrams’ compositions and Snydman’s confident playing throughout goes a long way in establishing a central core for the ensembles to revolve and evolve.

The up-tempo swing of “One For Elegua” finds the group swinging in fine form. The selection starts with a nice intro of Abrams soloing over a nice swing feel laid down by Snydman and Derian, which leads to Clements joining in on tenor for the statement of the angular melody with well-placed hits. Clements tells a compelling story with his strong sense of time and linear development. Snydman’s drumming is a constant force that not only propels the music, but also seems to inspire the musicians with well-placed commentary and interjections.

Miro Sprague’s piano playing adds a nice light touch to Snydman’s original waltz, “Wise Mind.” Snydman and Derian push and pull the waltz feel to give just the right amount of space and breathe for Sprague to build his solo which has several nice peaks and valleys. Snydman’s light cymbal work is always in play here, but never overpowering, only strongly felt.

The two standards included on the date are Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn's romantic ballad, "Star Crossed Lovers," and Herbie Hancock's "Tell Me A Bedtime Story." Both are given a fresh dressing and are played in a way that sets well with the original music that surrounds them. Pattishall’s piano work on the flowing ballad "Star Crossed Lovers" is very enjoyable and displays are true use of restraint. "Tell Me A Bedtime Story" finds the ensemble in complete joy, giving an inspired “live” performance.

Fortunate Action is a very enjoyable debut from a onetime guitarist that transformed to drummer and in many ways one can hear the developing path that the two instruments have led to in Snydman’s approach to music. Snydman has strong sense of the modern jazz language, a nice sense of groove and Snydman’s approach to the leader role is fresh and works well for the overall musical statement of the project. This is an adventurous exploration of melodies and rhythms by a collection of hardworking and inspiring up and coming musicians, keep an ear out for more from Alex Snydman!

Track Listing: 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; Chris Pattishal: piano (1, 5, 6); Doug Abrams: piano (2, 3, 8, 9); Miro Sprague: piano (4, 7); Alec Derian: bass (1, 3-8); Tyler Heydolph: bass (2, 9); Carl Clements: tenor saxophone (3), soprano saxophone (8).

Record Label: Self Produced

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H. Allen Williams