While a partnership between alto saxophonist Jim Snidero and guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel wasn’t immediately predictable, upon closer analysis, makes perfect sense. Both have been active in the New York scene for decades; both are searingly fresh while tethered to the tradition; both value sound as much as ideas.
Rosenwinkel is arguably the most influential jazz guitarist of his generation; steeped in the bop tradition and lineage of Bird and Cannonball, Snidero is widely respected as well. Their joint creation, Far Far Away, is a triumph because it takes care of both of those core concepts, as cited by Snidero: sound and phrasing.
On the opening title track, both men display their contrasts and individualities. The dynamic rhythm section from Live at the Deer Head Inn is back: incisive pianist Orrin Evans, nimble bassist Peter Washington, and maximum-swinging drummer Joe Farnsworth. Together, they bolster and buoy the co-leaders, galvanizing them to take vast melodic swings.
With Snidero’s alto in the subtly acidic higher register and Rosenwinkel’s smeared-pastel tone rounding him out, Far Far Away proves to be a fruitful meeting of minds. The lion’s share of the tunes, like “Infinity,” “Nowhere to Hide” and Pat Martino tribute “Pat,” are Snidero originals written to accomodate Rosenwinkel’s singular touch; the lone standard, “It Might as Well Be Spring,” is enchanting coming from these two masters. Because they lead with beauty and atmosphere, Far Far Away is so much more than what it might seem like on paper. It’s one thing to conceptualize phrases on paper; it’s entirely another to translate them into enveloping sound. And that’s why Far Far Away shouldn’t be a one-off, but merely the beginning of this winning—and long-overdue—partnership.