Steve Snyder Trio: Prime Vintage

Indiana jazz prof and organist leads his guitar and drums trio in material beyond the ordinary, towards Larry Young and Don Patterson


Steve Snyder is not the type of player that lets his organ roar like a John Deere tractor and excretes barrages of blues licks as if he’s had an ill-fated affair with Big Mama Thornton. No offence. But Snyder has more to offer. His sound is modern and his lines are balanced like the sentences from a Hemingway story. He is rooted in the modern jazz tradition of pioneers Larry Young and Don Patterson and their disciples as Arno Krijger and Brian Charette.

To be sure, Snyder does throw himself into a funk groove and gives Message From The Meters a shot. The funk anthem by The Meters was covered by organist Leon Spencer in 1971. That version, uplifted by the unique drumming style of Idris Muhammad, is impossible to beat. Nonetheless, Snyder’s take serves as a typical example of his snappy and tight-knit trio.

In the absence of horns, there is plenty of time for Snyder and guitarist Joel Tucker to stretch out, which they do deftly, I might add. The modal-tinged and sassy Sharp Left burns down the house. It’s the anthem of a gang of zestful arsonists. The leader runs a tight ship and is full of risky ideas. Tucker, an unknown player to me until now, is an immaculate axe man displaying one bundle of sparkling lines after another.

Legacy, underscored by “prime vintage” polyrhythm, rivals Sharp Left as the album’s post-bop winner. However, the trio has more in store. Fourth Six is a pretty melody that is introduced by Snyder as if he is seated at the organ beside the pulpit, while the flock slowly shambles into the roadside church. To boot, he is clearly not averse to soulful balladry, as These Two convincingly points out.

Prime Vintage is a high-quality effort from an excellent organ group.

Legacy; Message From The Meters; Sharp Left; So Be; Fourth Six; Thank You; Those Two; So That’s What This Is About (47.47)
Snyder (org); Joel Tucker (g); Kenny Phelps (d). Astoria, 22 April 2022.
DPU Records 1003