Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Don't shoot the Messenger
Samuel Chell | Kenosha,, WI United States | 08/14/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Not only did David Schnitter have the longest tenure of any tenor saxophonist in Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers but he was always present on the most exciting and memorable of Bu's sets that I was privileged to catch. His return to music and recording after a sabbatical of over 20 years is at once cheering and disturbing. There may have been more schooled and disciplined players preceding and succeeding Schnitter, not to mention younger, "cooler," more fashionable and sophisticated icons that attracted record producers following the post-Wynton era. But none of them brought to a performance a huge "unconstructed" tone so disproportionate to the player's size, a determination to let emotion control technique instead of vice versa, and finally a passion for playing that precluded virtually any "hip" posturing. I don't recall a single other musician who, following a triumphant solo during a Newport concert at Carnegie Hall, had me on my feet hollering like a rock fan.
His comparative neglect for two decades is one of the crueler injustices in a music that is hardly known for fairness. Not a single one of his four excellent LP's for Muse has been issued on CD. As a result, "Sketch" (and the contemporaneous European release "Pen Pals") is a welcome return of the prodigal Messenger.
Nonetheless, listeners who were never engaged by the Ornette Coleman quartets are unlikely to be immediately impressed by the chordless quartet Schnitter employs here. He plays less symmetrically now, favoring the upper register of the horn and being less conscious of the bar lines. It's as though he's abandoned the influence and powerful breathstream of his former hero, Dexter Gordon, and turned to Ornette and Coltrane for conceptual inspiration.
The music on this recording requires close, attentive listening, and I doubt many listeners will assimilate it in a single sitting. Schnitter's sound is now somewhere between Mobley's musky quality and Coltrane's direct, vibratoless approach. Regardless, it's immediately recognizable, as are his melodic ideas, especially the ascending, almost statato-llike, phrases that he occasionally employs. For listeners unfamiliar with Schnitter, the best in-print example of his work is on a DVD that he recorded with Blakey and trumpeter Bill Hardman at a 1976 jazz festival in Umbria, Italy. (See my review under "videos" at allaboutjazz.com and look for it on Amazon.) It's the most honest, heartfelt, creative jazz performed during an era better known for roller skates and disco musiic."