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Northern Standard Time

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Album Review

Northern Standard Time is Maine jazz performer and educator Thomas Snow's first album as a leader. He has chosen to produce a compilation of three separate sessions, playing with two different sets of musicians and soloing on some cuts. With one exception, the program comprises familiar standards, but not all played in the way one usually hears them. The one non-standard, "Happy Canister," is a composition by Steve L'Heureux who plays the rather unusual instrumental combination of trombone and flute. His is a post-bop piece with avant-garde overtones on which the trombone, naturally, is featured. Snow plays unaccompanied piano on "Lullaby of Birdland," "Moonglow," "Polka Dots and Moonbeams," and "What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?," in a style reminiscent of one of his major influences, Dave McKenna. This means that there is a lot of attention given to melodic inventiveness. Snow is by no means a clone, however, as he adds his own thoughts to this music. The performing demeanor changes dramatically when he is joined by other musicians, frequently taking on bop, post-bop and, as already mentioned, avant-garde trappings. One of the most frequently recorded songs in the history of American popular music, Hoagy Carmichael's "Stardust," features the trombone of Don Doane, whose rendition here recalls Bob Brookmeyer's 1965 rendering. Doane's trombone is also featured on a very soft, subdued "I Thought About You," where he and Snow trade ideas without benefit of a rhythm section. The way this duo dissects and then rehabilitates the melody is one of the highlights of the album. "On Green Dolphin Street," along with "Puttin''' on the Ritz," mark the only moments when the pattern of slow, introspective arrangements is broken, the former being an upbeat trio version with Phil Verrill's drums getting significant playing time. The ballad style returns for the album's coda as Snow and the Ben Webster-style tenor saxophone of Ralph Norris deliver the beautiful "A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square," which leaves the listener feeling very good as the album ends. Given the performances and arrangements on this maiden album, Thomas Snow and his compatriots on this set are clearly artists who deserve wider recognition.


Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s

Maine is not the state one usually looks to as a breeding place for jazz musicians. Aside from guitarist Lenny Breau, there are not many other who immediately come to mind. Now comes pianist Thomas Snow with an outstanding musical education and performing credentials. Exposed at home to music running from the rags of Scott Joplin to the modern piano of Ahmad Jamal, Snow attended jazz camps during his Middle and High School years. There he met and took lessons from Benny Carter pianist, Chris Neville....
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Northern Standard Time, Thomas Snow
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