Bob Sneider

Nocturne for Ava

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Bob Sneider and Joe Locke's follow-up to Fallen Angel, their first Film Noir Project, follows the same formula, blending creative arrangements of music written for movies with enticing originals that are worthy of being utilized in soundtracks. Joining the guitarist and vibraphonist once more are trumpeter John Sneider, tenor saxophonist Grant Stewart, and pianist Paul Hofmann, with newcomers including bassist Martin Wind, drummer Tim Horner, and percussionist Luisito Quintero. John Sneider's breezy setting of "Last Tango in Paris" is brisker than Gato Barbieri's original conception, filled with terrific solos and tight ensembles. The sexy ballad "Afterglow" shimmers as it shifts focus between Sneider's muted trumpet and Hofmann's lush piano. "Laura" has long been considered a standard, but Locke's adaptation almost seems to float in the air, with a tense vamp underneath the deliberately played melody. Bob Sneider's intricate acoustic guitar introduces Michel Legrand's haunting "Windmills of Your Mind," shifting to an implied Latin flavor as the theme is stated, with a creative horn ensemble behind the piano and vibes. The tension is prominent in Chris Ziemba's scoring of Johnny Mandel's "I Want to Live," while Stewart's playful arrangement of Duke Ellington's "Flirtibird" brings this decades-old gem into the 21st century. The originals also merit praise, especially Locke's dark ballad "Nocturne for Ava" and Hofmann's humorous "Kiss Me, Kill Me," a light-hearted mini-film noir, complete with a murder in its midst.

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