“Snydman’s impressive debut is, indeed, a fortunate act marking the emergence of a new talent on the jazz landscape.  Snydman and his gang are quite adept at articulating a progressive modern jazz sound in stylish fashion, clearly demonstrating the obvious: that Fortunate Action deserves serious attention from critics and audiences alike.” – Edward Blanco, All About Jazz

“A harmonious path of warmth, thoughtfulness, and a musical cohesion from a variety of presentations.  We find Snydman proving he is in fact the real deal both behind the kit and as a composer.  On point in every possible fashion.  One of the best for 2013…4.5 stars…as close to perfection as one can get.” – Brent Black, Critical Jazz

“Alex Snydman has offered the listening public a new level of sound, with accolade-blanketed reactions.  Snydman is not your cookie-cutter band leader.  More so a visionary whom arranges from the soul onto the music sheet.” – Karl Stober, EJAZZNEWS

“Snydman’s drumming is a constant force that not only propels the music, but also seems to inspire the musicians with well-placed commentary and interjections.  Snydman has a strong sense of the modern jazz language, a nice sense of groove, and Snydman’s approach to the leader role is fresh.  This is an adventurous exploration of melody’s and rhythms by a collection of hardworking and inspiring up and coming musicians.  Keep an ear out for more from Alex Snydman!” – Jazz Times

“Snydman’s debut recalls the heartland approach of Brian Blade’s Fellowship Band.  He executes fluid rim and high-hat combinations [and] his meticulous cymbal work recalls his instructor Eric Harland, as well as Peter Erskine’s touch.” – Down Beat 3 Stars

“One of the most sophisticated drummers in his chosen field of jazz.” – Grady Harp, Amazon, 5 out of 5 Stars – HALL OF FAME TOP 50 REVIEWER VINE VOICE

“Snydman and his crew definitely have positivist attitudes, and all the material in Action sits in the meditational, the intellectual, and the dance of the soul in a milieu freed from ignorance and negativism.  Fortunate Action is a return to elder virtues in tune with modern ways.” – Mark S. Tucker, FAME Reviews

Fortunate Action is a remarkably cohesive album, held together by group coaction and feel.  A delightful, well-played no-nonsense small combo jazz record.” – S. Victor Aaron, Something Else!

“Colorful, often subtle, and downright pretty writing from all the participants.  Originally a guitarist, Snydman turned to the drums about a decade ago, and it would appear he’s there to stay.” – George Fendel, Jazzscene

“Snydman is a dynamic player and this is truly evident in Herbie Hancock’s inestimable “Tell Me A Bedtime Story”.  Snydman may have started later in life on the drum kit, but his cogent skills are that of a lifetime player.” – Emusic  

Tom Reney of Jazz A La Mode Reviews Fortunate Action

“I’ve been listening to Alex Snydman and most of the musicians who appear with him on Fortunate Action for the past ten years, and it’s a delight to hear them now on this well-balanced debut that combines originals and songs by Herbie Hancock and Billy Strayhorn.  Alex impressed me upon our first meeting as a young man infused with a passion for jazz, and I could tell by the drummers he sought out and studied with (Eric Harland, Greg Hutchinson, John Riley, among others) that he was serious about learning how to create music, not just develop chops, and that’s beautifully-realized on Fortunate Action.  The same can be said for Snydman’s colleagues, pianists Miro Sprague, Doug Abrams, and Chris Pattishall, bassists Alec Derian and Tyler Heydolph, and saxophonist Carl Clements, all of whom enliven this disc much as they do the bandstands of Western New England and beyond.”

Tom Reney
Jazz a la Mode
New England Public Radio
Amherst, Mass. 01003

Clubland: Before a move West, Alex Snydman celebrates release of new CD

Gazette Contributing Writer

Thursday, July 26, 2012  Daily Hampshire Gazette

Not long ago I ran into jazz drummer Alex Snydman deep in the cement labyrinth of the Campus Center at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. He was gingerly pushing an industrial cart stacked with carefully balanced drums out to the parking garage; he’d just finished playing another gig.

Snydman has lugged his drums all over the Valley and beyond – coffee shops, New York City clubs, vegan cafes – and his hard work and dedication has paid off in at least two ways: in the fall, he’ll pursue a master’s degree in jazz performance at the California Institute of the Arts, and this weekend, he’ll release his long-awaited debut CD as a bandleader, “Fortunate Action.”

Snydman plays the Iron Horse on Sunday at 7 p.m., joined by bassist Tyler Heydolph, saxophonist Carl Clements and a revolving cast of pianists (Doug Abrams, Chris Pattishall and Miro Sprague).

The CD release will double as a going away party of sorts as Snydman, a graduate of Hampshire College, blazes a new path for himself on the other side of the country.

“This experience will be my first time in music school,” he said, “so I’m honestly just going to dive in fully in a way that I have only dreamed of … to be surrounded by musicians who are after the same thing as me.”

Though Snydman was accepted into a number of New York-area schools, he felt California was more his speed.

“When I visited CalArts, they really seemed to want me there,” he said. “Feeling desired is an important thing in this life and sometimes is a good indicator as to where the stream of life is pushing you to go … in this case it was West.”

The drummer has a strong memento to take with him, as “Fortunate Action” features musicians Snydman has played with and grown close to over the years. Pianist Sprague contributes the beautifully dusky waltz “Wise Mind” (its title inspired by a Buddhist idea), while fellow pianist Abrams has two very cool tunes, the stuttering and angular blues “Cross-Fade” and the funky but quizzical “Non Linear.”

Duke Ellington/Billy Strayhorn’s “Star Crossed Lovers” sounds like a moment frozen in time – Snydman’s snare swishes in slow motion and cymbals shimmer gently, sounding like surf spreading across the beach. “We tried to make that one a real heartbreaker,” he said.

The other cover is a creatively recast Herbie Hancock deep cut from 1969, “Tell Me a Bedtime Story,” one of the drummer’s favorite songs to play.

Snydman has compositions of his own on the record, like the sprightly swinger “One For Elegua” and the album-closing “Eternal Recurrence,” dedicated to John Coltrane, with a full-hearted melody that flows over shifting time signatures.

His musical influences include legends like Elvin Jones (with whom he shares a birthday), Tony Williams and Roy Haynes, but he admits getting the biggest inspiration from modern giants like Brian Blade, Eric Harland, Gregory Hutchinson and others.

“Fortunate Action” gets its title from a concept Snydman finds inspiring: “the exponential positive ripples that occur when we listen to our Inner Voice that is encouraging us to pursue our dreams,” as he writes in his liner notes. It’s a strong and thoughtful debut album, highly recommended.”

Art in Paradise: An Unfortunate Departure

Alex Snydman offers Fortunate Action as he leaves the Valley for California.

Thursday, August 16, 2012  Valley Advocate
By James Heflin


Photo by Jesse Shotland

Jazz drummer Alex Snydman is leaving the Valley after 12 years, and on the heels of producing his first CD as bandleader. The disc,Fortunate Action, is in many ways a stunner. It’s also the top-selling local album at Turn It Up in Northampton this week. Seven of its nine tracks are originals composed by various members of Snydman’s ensemble, including Snydman and pianists Chris Pattishall, Doug Abrams and Miro Sprague. He’s also joined by bassists Alec Derian and Tyler Heydolph and sax player Carl Clements.

The opening track, Pattishall’s “In Joy,” sprawls out in a calm, sophisticated splendor, driven by Pattishall’s piano. The tune offers a laid-back air that’s particular to jazz, occasionally using precipitous runs and fairly dissonant intervals in its chords to create a nonetheless relaxed and contemplative mood.

The second track, Doug Abrams “Cross-Fade” is a beautiful combination of fast-moving piano melody and an insistent, expectant bass-and-piano groove that really ties the piece together. Snydman’s drumming here and throughout the album walks that fruitful line between driving a song and playing with expectation through habits like dropping emphases in unexpected corners of the rhythm. He’s never so far gone that the groove of a tune exits, anchoring his splashes of cymbal and more complex parts with a strong downbeat or quick return to the rhythmic underpinnings of the melody.

At some points in the album, especially those with the addition of saxophonist Clements, the album’s feel becomes quicker, almost frantic. All the same, Snydman seems drawn more toward the contemplative; the title track is a gorgeous piece, full of quiet spaces, an exploration of the notion of “fortunate action,” which Snydman explains in the liner notes as “the exponential positive ripples that occur when we listen to our Inner Voice that is encouraging us to pursue our dreams and make the strong yet sometimes difficult decision to follow a path of Love, and synergistic co-creation.” In the case of the tune “Fortunate Action,” co-creation was indeed the order of the day—Snydman brought his initial ideas to pianist Sprague, and the collaboration yielded spectacular results. The piece is the album’s high point, a moving, subtle exploration that tries on several flavors in its varied parts before ending in the same airy voice with which it begins.

It’s great to hear this collection of local players entering that rarefied territory of original jazz composition rather than merely resting in the shade of well-worn standards. The results are refreshing and well-played throughout.

Snydman explains that he’s leaving the area for Valencia, Calif., where he’ll pursue an M.A. in jazz performance at the California Institute of the Arts. Here’s hoping he returns with more of the same adventurous musical spirit his first recording clearly displays.