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Jim Snidero: Strings – Episode 56

About Jim Snidero

The reissuing of Strings celebrates 20 years since the original recording — and memorializes 20 years since the attack on the Twin Towers, an attack that affected the recording in unprecedented ways. Saxophonist Jim Snidero was headed to the recording studio for this album on September 11, 2001. When he descended into the subway tunnels at 8:30 that morning, the twin towers were still standing. When he arrived in Brooklyn, the air was filled with smoke and floating work documents from the decimated offices. It was obvious they would have to reschedule. When they regrouped two months later, it was a somber meeting and the emotion everyone held in their hearts seeped into the music. Song titles like “Forever Gone,” “On the Banks of the Hudson,” and “The Talk of the Town,” suddenly held much different meanings than they previously anticipated.

You would never guess from listening, but saxophonist Jim Snidero had never written for strings before this album. He originally planned to record the project for a label that would connect him with an arranger, but when the label dropped the project, he decided to dig into string arranging himself. Jim delved into recordings from musicians like Clare Fischer and Nelson Riddle, listening closely to the way they created different textures through voicings. Through it all, he learned to paint musical pictures for songs like “River Suite, Pt. 1: Dawn,” “River Suite, Pt.2: On the Banks,” and “River Suite, Pt.3: Torrent.”

For example, “River Suite, Pt.1: Dawn” is written in the key of Db, which he refers to as the calmest key in music. Above sustaining chords, he plays a curious melody that characterizes the mysterious calm in the world as the sun rises each morning on the Hudson River. In “River Suite, Pt. 3: Torrent,” drummer Billy Drummond kicks up a whirlwind that portrays the chaos of storms blowing in from the ocean to Manhattan. Jim wrote “Forever Gone,” in the key of Eb minor, which he says is the saddest key in music, and cites Mozart’s Requiem as another heartbreakingly beautiful piece in Eb minor.

There’s much more to learn from Jim about his composition techniques. Listen to the full Bite-Size Jazz interview with jazz saxophonist Jim Snidero to hear more about the inspiration behind the songs of his newly reissued album Strings, how he used texture, voicings, and chord changes to represent emotions, and the album’s connection to 9/11.

“It was an intense record — you can hear that in the music. The musicians really had something to say that day”

Jim Snidero


Learn more about Jim Snidero on his website, You can find Stairway to the Stars anywhere you stream music. It’s also available for purchase from Amazon Music.

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