STORY WRITTEN BY FERN BRODKIN
For Digital First Media
Andy Snitzer is coming home. The Cheltenham native returns to perform as part of Gerald Veasley’s Unscripted Jazz Series at SOUTH.
Snitzer, whose latest album “American Beauty” (Goose Song, 2015) spent a significant amount of time on the SmoothJazz.com chart, performed at SOUTH in September with Jason Miles’ To Grover with Love project, in which he magnificently channeled the heart, soul and spirit of Grover Washington, Jr. This time Snitzer returns to SOUTH to perform his own music, and music that is close to his heart.
In a telephone interview, bassist Gerald Veasley discussed the origins of the Unscripted Jazz Series, which began in October, 2015.
“The idea of the Unscripted Jazz Series is to bring in contemporary artists and put them in a setting where they can not only play their hits but reach back and play some of the music that they love, some of the more traditional, straight-ahead music that they grew up with,” explained Veasley.
“We’ve built quite a fan base. We have a lot of loyal followers who come week in, week out,” said Veasley.
“Most of the artists… are very versatile. They’re artists who have made a name for themselves in the contemporary jazz world who are known for having broader sensibilities. Some of these artists I’ve had the good fortune of working with… and I know them personally and (had) performed with them. I’ve also gotten to work with artists I did not know, but who were delightful.”
Snitzer is one such artist who has a long relationship with Veasley. Early in Snitzer’s career he had the opportunity to play with Veasley’s former band Reverie.
“So I’ve known him for a number of years and I’ve always admired his playing because he plays with a real fearlessness and he never plays anything that is typical or predictable,” said Veasley. “He’s very spontaneous and plays with a lot of passion. I love that about his musicianship.”
Snitzer certainly qualifies as a versatile artist whose musical output spans genres. In addition to releasing albums under his own name, he has recorded and toured with Paul Simon for well over a decade. He did 2 tours with The
Rolling Stones in the ‘90s. His many recording credits include such diverse artists as Tony Bennett and Panic! At the Disco, among many others.
In a telephone interview from Paris, while on tour with Simon, Snitzer explained that he started out playing clarinet because “if your mother tells you you’re gonna play an instrument, you play an instrument. I did it and I kind of quit for a year, around age 14. I just stopped practicing, stopped playing. I don’t even remember why.
“And then I picked up the saxophone with a vengeance. I remember hearing David Bowie’s ‘Young Americans’ (RCA, 1975) – and of course that was after that was a current record – and thought ‘that’s really cool.’ But that doesn’t really explain somebody wanting to all of a sudden practice 4 or 5 hours a day.”
He added: “I equally liked John Coltrane and Led Zeppelin. It all kind of bears out in the kinds of things that I’ve done. I think they just reflect the fact that it’s a truth. It’s a musical truth to say that I love the saxophone. I love jazz saxophone and I’m also interested in pop and rock and funk.”
Although Snitzer performs his music live on occasion, it is a rare opportunity for him to perform his own music in his hometown. He is understandably very excited about this opportunity.
Snitzer will be accompanied by Veasley on bass, Donald Robinson on keyboards, Wendell Sewell on guitar and Darryl Jackson on drums.
As for the repertoire, Veasley said “I don’t really guide the artists as much as give them permission to ‘get back to letting your hair down and just playing your heart out,’ because my philosophy is, regardless of genre, if you play your heart out with authenticity and sincerity and you give your best, audiences will receive it.”
Snitzer added: “The show will be mostly my original music, with some straight ahead covers thrown in, in the spirit of Gerald’s Unscripted Series,” said Snitzer. “Gerald is leaving the set up to me, and I think I’ve come up with a nice set of music that everyone will enjoy.”