Putting the spotlight on saxophonist Adam Schneit.
Adam Schneit Band – Light Shines In [TrackList follows] – Fresh Sound New Talent FSNT 518, 48:00 [12/2/16] ****:
(Adam Schneit – tenor saxophone, clarinet, producer; Eivind Opsvik – bass, mixer; Sean Moran – guitar; Kenny Wollesen – drums)
The 48-minute, seven-track Light Shines In puts the focus on tenor saxophonist Adam Schneit, who previously did duty in the band Old Time Musketry, which often blended Americana/folk inclinations with jazz improvisation. On his debut, Schneit aims squarely at modern jazz with an enviable NYC-based quartet: Schneit is heard on tenor sax and clarinet; then there is bassist Eivind Opsvik (he runs his own label, leads a group, and has collaborated with forward-thinking artists such as Tony Malaby, Nate Wooley, Skuli Sverrison and others); guitarist Sean Moran (a longtime faculty instructor at the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music); and drummer Kenny Wollesen (who has spent time in Opsvik’s ensemble and supported Tom Waits, Sean Lennon, Ron Sexsmith, Bill Frisell, Norah Jones and many more).
Schneit’s seven originals (which range from four minutes to just over nine in length) pivot, pulse and are propulsive. They also showcase Schneit’s slightly edgy compositional and improvisational style. Schneit’s influences and inspirations are wide reaching. The album’s title comes from a line found in Leonard Cohen’s 1992 tune, “Anthem,” where Cohen sings, “Ring the bells (ring the bells) that still can ring, Forget your perfect offering, There is a crack in everything (there is a crack in everything), That’s how the light gets in.” That sense of discovery and ferreting out hidden treasures percolates through Schneit’s CD. The opener, “A Clearer View” (the longest cut) has a friendly theme reinforced by Schneit’s warm sax and Moran’s exemplary guitar, and the unwinding rhythm is locked in by Opsvik’s lightly echoing acoustic bass and Wolleson’s balanced drum patterns. Hearing the interplay between Opsvik and Wollesen it’s easy to understand they’ve been doing this as a unit for a while. Schneit nods to his past on the swinging and satiating “Old Time Musketry,” which moves along at a welcoming pace, and has an intermediate verve. Schneit’s solo integrates some bop and post-bop elements while Moran’s improvisation has an investigative slant close in spirit (if not total tonality) to Bill Frisell and Pat Metheny. The shortest piece is the title track, where Schneit displays a knack for contemplative melodicism, and a soft lyrical nature. There is gentleness but also a connotation of unplanned spontaneity which drifts below the surface.
The foursome’s exploratory side flares up on the changeable “Different Times,” where Moran delivers open-ended solo slices which ebb and flow, sometimes poetic and other times pressing his amp’s sound into loud, rock-tinged territory. Wollesen contributes an expansive degree of rhythmical backing (it almost seems like he’s hitting everything on his drum kit for a wholly immersive beat). Meanwhile, Schneit gives it his all on sax. Another track which bursts with progressivity is “My Secret Hobby,” where the velocity and energy are raised to a high level, and looseness and unrestrained inventiveness carries through the 5:49 piece. Moran goes all out channeling fellow NYC guitarists like Arto Lindsay, Marc Ribot or early Frisell, while Schneit supplies some high-flying soloing. This isn’t true ‘outsider’ jazz, but there is a sure and blazing characteristic of pushing the musical envelope.
The quartet closes with the aptly-named “Song for Silence,” a discerningly slow-burner which demonstrates Schneit’s pop/rock music knowledge and ability to put together a memorable jazz ballad. He and the band don’t quote from rock or pop music, but a listener may perceive an awareness of popular music typically separate from traditional jazz. There is a relaxed vibe as well as a concealed tension which occasionally is noticed, which approximates some clear but dark alt-pop tunes from the 1990s. In fact, “Song for Silence” seems to musically mirror the viewpoint (but not the melody) from “Closing Time,” another Cohen number from The Future, where Cohen affirms, “And the moon is swimming naked, And the summer night is fragrant, With a mighty expectation of relief, So we struggle and we stagger, Down the snakes and up the ladder, To the tower where the blessed hours chime.”
TrackList: A Clearer View; Different Times; Old Time Musketry; Hope for Something More; Light Shines In; My Secret Hobby; Song for Silence