It’s always been a key part of Andy Snitzer’s life and career. The multi-talented saxophonist felt this wondrous sense of the surreal when he was called, all of 25yrs old, to contribute his blazing solo on Boy Meets Girl’s Top Five 1988 hit “Waiting For A Star To Fall.” A likewise feeling, upon the release of Ties That Bind, his 1994 solo debut on Warner Bros., and each critically acclaimed album since. And likewise every night he played with the Rolling Stones on their epic Voodoo Lounge and Bridges to Babylon tours, then two decades (1999-2018) on the road with Paul Simon, soloing and creating fire with the horn section, and most recently touring the globe these past five years (pandemic era excepted) with longtime pal Chris Botti.
Thinking back fondly and looking ahead excitedly as he releases his eighth solo album, everything still seems ripe with transcendence, as if Snitzer has been both the creator and guiding force of what can only be described as A Beautiful Dream.
“The inspiration for the title and theme of the album starts with me looking back fondly on my career and being elevated by all the music I’ve had the good fortune to make, both as a solo artist and in collaboration with so many other great artists. Being in a position to share my creativity with the world, and to have an audience for that creativity. But it’s also more personal than that. It’s about loving my little family (Snitzer's daughter Madeleine helped him to pen all the titles on the album); it's about the joy of the intersections I’ve had with so many people, all across the globe. If you told me as a 16-year-old aspiring musician that this would be the story, I would never have believed you.”
While Snitzer has long felt that his 2011 album Traveler – an epic chronicle of his multi-faceted whirlwind life on the road – is the landmark by which all his others are measured, there always comes a point where the songwriter in him grows restless and he begins kicking up new tracks, never knowing where the process will lead. A few years after releasing Higher (2020), he found himself in mad scientist/musical tinkerer mode, locking himself in the studio, whipping up MIDI arrangements and saxophone parts that form the foundation of the ten tracks on A Beautiful Dream.
Once again, Snitzer’s chief collaborator in further developing these raw elements is Alain Mallet, onetime Paul Simon bandmate and Berklee College of Music professor. Mallet played smaller roles on earlier Snitzer projects- Traveler (2011), The Rhythm (2013), and American Beauty (2015)- before taking the co-producer chair on Higher. Mallet brings a colorful mad scientist aesthetic of his own to A Beautiful Dream, immersing in the saxophonist’s raw tracks for days, then emerging from the lab with his own fresh textures and flair.
“It’s a cool partnership, because the way Alain expresses himself on my arrangements varies from song to song, with exciting and sometimes unexpected results,” Snitzer says. “He may send me something back that’s fully in line with the vision I had, or he may send a completely upended arrangement, far afield from what I initially imagined. If you put Alain in a free position, with full license to express his talents, you'll be rewarded with tons of musical creativity, guaranteed.”
On A Beautiful Dream, the essential fusion of tracks created by Snitzer and Mallet are enhanced – and quite literally, “jazzed up” - by a team of longtime friends and collaborators, including drummers Clint de Ganon, Little John Roberts, Mike White, Graham Hawthorne and Gary Novak; bassists Tim Lefebvre and John Patitucci; keyboardist Mike Ricchiuti; guitarists James Harrah and Matt Beck and trumpeters Jim Hynes and Tony Kadleck.
Snitzer shares the joys of A Beautiful Dream like a freewheeling adventure, his robust tenor (on eight tracks), lyrical alto, and sweet soprano catching fire on tunes that reflect all his trademark contemporary jazz sub-styles. Out of the gate with the edgy, jangling and infectious mid-tempo soul/funk on 1st radio single “Groove Commission”, Snitzer then grabs visceral hold of our bodies and hearts on the clubby, thumping high octane urgency of “Tonight’s The Night” (featuring a snazzy horn textured hook). He tickles our romantic fancy on the gentle, seductive ballad “Whispered”, then whisks us off to global destinations, with the exotic, percussively intoxicating “My Melody (Minha Melodia)” and the lushly tropical paradise of “Isola Bella.”
If A Beautiful Dream had dropped during the vinyl LP era, the flip side would launch with the title track, which like the dreamscape of Snitzer’s life and career begins with a gentle rush of hope and inspiration (conveyed as a simple sax-piano duet) before building into a crescendo of adventure, possibility, and achievement. This journey within a single tune sets the tone for the rest of the album, which includes the tight, in the pocket urban jazz/funk romp “Allure,” the silky road, richly passionate “Desi”, and the alternately fiery and cool/laid back old-school soul-jazz groover “La Cavaliere.” Snitzer and company wrap A Beautiful Dream with the perfect chillout bedroom ballad, “Love Star.”
“This album is my Beautiful Dream. An expression of gratitude for my personal and creative lives, another opportunity to share my musical truths” says Snitzer. “And the dream continues, personally, and as long as I’m able to keep creating, making albums that I'm proud of, while improving as a composer, record-maker, and saxophone artist. A Beautiful Dream is my statement of gratitude, for this very beautiful life.”