Out Of The Darkness
The second solo effort from four-year Chuck Mangione tour veteran and two-time winner of the Downbeat “Outstanding Performance in Jazz” award; includes bonus live track.
01 Isfahan (6:47)
02 Out of the Darkness (5:21)
03 David's Tune (4:25)
04 Waltz for Aleta (6:04)
05 Love Walked In (8:40)
06 Ev'ry Time We Say Good-bye (7:29)
07 Vivo Sonhando (Dreamer) (3:41)
08 If I Had You (6:19)
09 You'd Be So Nice To Come Home To (6:12)
10 Pyramid (4:50)
11 Lyresto (Live) (3:26)
Guitarist Bob Sneider is coming out of the darkness.
After touring with trumpeter Chuck Mangione for four years, he’s played with a long list of musicians including Nat Adderley, Don Menza, Nick Brignola, Freddie Cole, Fred Wesley and Jon Faddis. He’s also appeared on banjo and guitar with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra Pops, and has earned several awards from Downbeat magazine along the way. In 1997, his academic studies took him from his home in the “City of Champions,” as Brockton, Massachusetts, is called, to Rochester, New York, where he is currently a faculty member at the esteemed Eastman School of Music.
This is Bob’s second recording as a leader, following 1998’s Introducing Bob Sneider. He is also heard on his brother John’s Double-Time CD, Panorama, released in 2000.
From Ellington and Strayhorn’s “Far East Suite,” Bob explores “Isfahan” by playing lovely chords throughout a compelling orchestration for guitar and bass. As he digs into his solo, the tune’s waltz-like feel gives way to a straight-ahead groove. Bob Stata’s bass solo is next — it is short and swinging. Drummer Mike Melito shows his skills at the end of this one.
The title tune, “Out of the Darkness,” offers straight ahead blowing at a brisk tempo. The first solo is from the leader — his work is sparkling, moving and driving, full of passionate fire without raging out of control. Brother John’s trumpet is heard next. Can you imagine the jam sessions in the Sneider living room when they were growing up? A singing piano solo from Paul Hofmann follows bringing the tune to a swinging conclusion.
Among the several instrumental settings on this recording, “David’s Tune” for Bob’s nephew gives us the chance to hear the guitarist working with just rhythm support supplied by Tony Padilla’s hand drums.
On “Waltz For Aleta,” soft and gentle guitar work rings out like a bell. I hear echoes of the old standard “Dear Heart” throughout. Listen to the guitarist‘s tone. He is always swinging, and his note selection seems to ascend right off the fretboard. This is pretty music.
John Sneider offers an interesting arrangement of Gershwin’s “Love Walked In” for the guitar and piano. Bob and the band gently swing as the trumpeter starts things off with the ideas flowing smoothly from his horn. Bob follows next making his guitar sing, first with just single notes then into octave territory, reminiscent of the masterful Wes Montgomery. “Love Walked In” is a pleasant stroll.
“Ev’ry Time We Say Good-Bye” is a gorgeous recording featuring a string quartet arranged by Dave Rivello. On this ballad, Bob is the only soloist, accompanied brilliantly by pianist Hofmann. This is a gem!
“Viva Sonhando” is a Jobim tune, sometimes called “Dreamer.” Just congas and guitar are heard. Swift lines swirl from Bob’s guitar clearly showing that even when the tempo goes up, Bob still produces that wonderful tone.
The congas provide a shuffle groove for the guitar on “If I Had You.” As Bob starts his solo, the conga accepts a time-keeping role, giving Bob more freedom and the added responsibility of filling that space with music. Bob shows that he’s up for the task! Percussionist Padilla gets a solo here.
On “You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To,” the string quartet opens things up by stating the melody. Then the strings drop back, coloring and flavoring the music as Bob and the rhythm section settle into the tune. Even when playing with a string quartet, Bob’s playing is earthy and funky.
“Pyramid” was written by Ellington trombonist Juan Tizol, best known for the composition “Caravan.” Stately and majestic, it’s Sneider’s guitar playing along with hand drums. Make sure you catch the break in the tune — it took my breath away! As I listen to Bob’s guitar playing, I find myself constantly admiring his pretty tone, no matter the tempo or instrumentation. I think it’s about time for Bob Sneider to step “Out of the Darkness” and be heard. Take a listen! I think you’ll enjoy it.
Eric in the Evening, WGBH Boston
[four stars] "Bob Sneider may not be widely known, but he’s developed one of the most refreshingly original jazz guitar styles you’re likely to hear. On this, his second release (following 1998’s Introducing Bob Sneider), he displays a woody, acoustic tone reminiscent of Jim Hall, Martin Taylor, and John Pizzarelli. He possesses tremendous technical facility and a truly inventive vocabulary — odd intervallic combinations, timbres, and turns of phrase crop up everywhere, all in the service of an impeccable lyricism."
— All Music Guide, December 2001
"...The guitarist plays well here...the briskly paced hard bop of the title track suiting Sneider well..."
— JazzTimes, May 2002
"…listening to it is like taking a springtime ride with the top down… There’s a good mix of electric and acoustic guitar, and the pacing is a naturalistic, satisfying sequence of density and mood… "Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye" is a highlight of the album, along with the graceful takes on "Isfahan," "Pyramid," and Jobim’s "Dreamer." Bassist Bob Stata, pianist Paul Hofmann and drummer Mike Melito are consistently first-rate… the video reveals that a good time was had by all. It certainly sounds like it. A thoroughly enjoyable CD."
— All About Jazz, January 2003
"Delightful music is on tap from guitarist Sneider. Playing with small groups plus the occasional input of a string quartet, he waltzes, sambas, and otherwise prances though a mix of original and standard songs using a melodic framework and a deft improvisational hand. Sneider plays both the electric and classical version of his instrument, and he communicates with a tender heart and an occasional upbeat spirit… the guitarist plays with ringing clarity and a joyous nature. He keeps the mood light, and in each encouter you sense he and groups are having fun…"
— Cadence, 2003
"This CD demonstrates a sophisticated versatility on the part of the leader. The arrangements sound both interesting and challenging, without losing the casual listener… Tempos and tones are perfect, and the record quality is excellent… It should make many guitarists envious of Mr. Sneider's abilities…
— Just Jazz Guitar, February 2003