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Larry Schneider Quartet: Ali Girl

The open sound of a pianoless rhythm section gives Larry Schneider a wonderful platform for the soprano sax musings that occupy him and engage the listener on this tasty set. His playing offers great facility inflected by a deep-seated sense of melody-his flawless intonation is a bonus. Guitarist Dave Stryker provides most of the harmonic framing with his exemplary comping, though some of the session’s most striking moments come when he and Schneider double the melody, as on the title track. Bassist Jay Anderson is solid throughout, and drummer Billy Drummond is at his accustomed high level of achievement. The four are joined on two standards by the gifted flugelhornist Alexander Sipiagin, giving the leader an opportunity to strut his substantial tenor chops. Schneider’s “Italian Movie” is not so much a travelogue as a sort of montage, with Mediterranean pastoral colors giving way to darker hues. Stryker drives the transition, driven in turn by Drummond’s insistent dynamic, with his ringing snare sound contributing to the character of the piece. Schneider pushes the straight horn a bit harder here, and the edge that comes out is as appealing as the warmth in his ballad playing.

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