Alex Snydman – Fortunate Action (2013)

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Alex Snydman grew up playing guitar and didn’t decide until he was already well into college to switch over to the drums. He’s been pushing hard to make of for lost time ever since, learning under masters like Eric Harland, Joe La Barbera and Damion Reid. Next Tuesday, that hard work culminates in the release of his first album as a leader, Fortunate Action.

Fortunate Action is a entirely a straight-ahead jazz record, and mostly a jazz trio record, with Snydman going with guys he’s most comfortable performing with, even if that means mixing and matching musicians. Thus, Chris Pattishal, Doug Abrams and Miro Sprague all take turns behind the piano, and although Alec Derian is the primary bassist, Tyler Heydolph assumes the role at stand-up for a couple of tracks. The pianists all contribute originals, too, along with Snydman.

And yet, Fortunate Action is a remarkably cohesive album, held together by group coaction and feel. Snydman’s obvious background in melody as a former guitarist most likely informed this symbiotic relationship between harmony and rhythm heard all throughout these nine songs. As a drummer, Snydman is active but refined, an attribute that reveals itself right away in the rim work and cymbal touches on the urbane melody called “In Joy.” Behind Abrams’ funky piano on “Cross-Fade,” he’s adding all these discreet creases to the ol’ reliable 3/4 rhythm, and shows off fine bebop chops during “One For Elegua.” He adds a lot of dynamic rhythms to Herbie Hancock’s opulent “Tell Me A Bedtime Story,” and effortlessly plays around Heydolph’s thorny bass line on “Eternal Recurrence.”

The whole band often works together well to make a song compelling. For instance, “Fortunate Action” consists of Sprague’s circular pattern providing the platform for Snydman to improvise over. “Non Linear” progresses in a way that the title suggests, but Clements’ soprano sax keeps the harmony on the right path as Snydman and Derian work together through a delicate tempo in a very complementary way.

Alex Snydman may have started late on the drum kit but it must not have taken long for him to find his footing, because that’s a fully formed musician playing on his first album. A delightful, well-played no-nonsense small combo jazz record is a fine way to get started.

Fortunate Action is slated for release on April 30. Visit Alex Snydman’s website for more info.

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