Minor Returns: Tributes to the Horn in Jazz

Minor Returns: Tributes to the Horn in Jazz, by Jeffrey Snedeker, horn (JS4 Self-Published, 2010)

Featuring; John Sanders; piano, Isaac Castillo; bass, Garey Williams; drums, Tom Varner; horn, Lenny Price; alto sax, John Harbaugh; trumpet, Curtis Peacock; tuba, Saul Cline; tenor sax, Phil Dean; trombone, Mark Claassen; baritone sax with the Central Washington University Jazz Band and Central Washington University Symphony Orchestra Strings.

Jeffrey Snedeker, known to many HBS readers as a virtuoso natural horn and early valve horn player and horn scholar, has revealed another side of his multi-dimensional musical personality on this CD. It turns out he is also a fine jazz player who has a deep affection for the genre with a particular interest in the place of his chosen instrument in jazz. In this self-produced CD Snedeker, a professor at Central Washington University, draws upon the assistance of many from the CWU community including colleagues as well as former and current students.

There are 14 cuts on this recording of mostly jazz standards, but some less known material including two original compositions by Snedeker’s brother Gregory and the Allegretto from Jazz Symphony no.1 by John Graas. Jeffrey Snedeker has done research on Graas, a pioneer in jazz horn. It is the focus on the horn that most makes this recording a particularly interesting one. The Graas Jazz Symphony was written in 1956 and an octet version was published a year later. Two French Fries, composed by Gigi Gryce for the Oscar Pettiford Big Band and recorded in 1956 originally featured hornists Julius Watkins amd David Amram. Snedeker and invited artist Tom Varner do an admirable job recreating that pioneering recording. Also featuring Varner is George Butcher’s Linda Delia which was originally recorded by Julius Watkins in 1955. Snedeker brings out a lively interpretation of George Wallington’s Godchild which was originally recorded by Miles Davis on his famous Birth of the Cool (1949-1950) recording. Snedeker points out in his liner notes that the hornists on that seminal recording, Addision “Junior” Collins, Sandy Siegelstein, and Gunther Schuller were not given an opportunity to improvise but this current recording rectifies that issue. Also playing tribute to Miles Davis is Jeff Snedeker’s performance of Summertime recreating the beautiful arrange from Davis’s recording Porgy and Bess which originally included Julius Watkins, Willie Ruff, and Gunther Schuller. An interesting horn connection, pointed out in liner notes, is the recording of Thelonious Monk’s Straight, No Chaser. There is a striking similarity in Monk’s melody to the famous orchestral horn excerpt in Richard Strauss’ Till Eulenspiegel. Also in the realm of classical/jazz fusion is Moonlove which is an adaptation of the slow movement of Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5 which has been recorded by Glenn Miller and others. Paul Desmond’s famous Take Five is included as a tribute to Russian jazz hornist Arkady Shilkloper who wrote an arrangement featuring the horn and is recreated on this recording.

Jeffrey Snedeker did an admirable job as did his colleagues on this CD. Not only are there some lovely performances but we have been given a fresh perspective on a little appreciated instrument in the history of jazz.




-- Jeffrey Nussbaum