Over the past thirty years, alto saxophonist Jim Snidero has come to be known as an arbiter of taste through his sideman work, educational endeavors, and, most notably, his leader dates.
Snidero grew up in Camp Springs, Maryland. Musically nurtured from a young age, both at home and in his school music program, Snidero began to quickly show promise as a musician. As a teenager, Snidero studied with the great Phil Woods and matriculated at the world-renowned jazz program at North Texas State University (now known as the University of North Texas) in 1977. Studies with another saxophone great—Dave Liebman—helped Snidero to reach the next level as a musician and, ultimately, helped him to make the decision to move to New York at the conclusion of his college years. After arriving in The Big Apple in 1981, Snidero first appeared on the jazz radar when he joined Brother Jack McDuff’s band. That proved to be the first of many notable sideman stints for the then-budding saxophonist. Word of his skills quickly spread, leading Snidero down other avenues with the Mingus Big Band, saxophone icon Frank Wess, the Toshiko Akiyoshi Jazz Orchestra, Eddie Palmieri, and Frank Sinatra, to name just a few.
Snidero became a leader on record with the Akiyoshi-brokered On Time (Toshiba/EMI/East World, 1984), the first of many notable dates that he would record under his own name. Over the quarter century that followed, he created an enviable body of work built with musical consistency and stylistic diversity: Snidero teamed with his rising star peers on Mixed Bag (Criss Cross, 1987), his first widely-available release, and Blue Afternoon (Criss Cross, 1989), which is included in The Penguin Jazz Guide: The History Of The Music In The 1001 Best Albums; he recorded highly appealing, under-the-radar recordings for small labels, like Storm Rising (Ken, 1990) and Urban Tales (Square, 1991); he gave a legend his due with The Music Of Joe Henderson (Double Time, 2000); he tackled the legacy of saxophone-with-strings on Strings (Milestone, 2003); he brought tenor titan Eric Alexander into the fold for Close Up (Milestone, 2004); and he delivered a series of well-received dates for the Savant imprint—focusing on a guitar-centric line-up featuring Paul Bollenback on a series of critically-hailed albums and teaming up with young modernists like bassist Linda Oh and drummer Rudy Royston for dazzling efforts like Stream Of Consciousness (Savant, 2013) and Main Street (Savant, 2015), resulting in placing in Downbeat Magazine’s 2014 Readers poll on Alto Saxophone. His latest is entitled MD66 (Savant, 2016), inspired by Miles’ Davis’ second great quintet.
In 1996, Jim Snidero revolutionized jazz education by penning the first Jazz Conception books. In a market crowded with lick-based materials and lead sheet-driven products, he managed to make an impact by tapping into idiomatic language and phrasing that was previously unavailable to students. These best-selling books eventually spawned an Easy and Intermediate series that filled in the gaps for players at different levels; to date, the Jazz Conception series contains over forty books, and it remains an incredibly popular jazz education resource. In 2013, Snidero furthered his role as a jazz education visionary, creating The Jazz Conception Company, which explores a new frontier in the technology-meets-education world. He merged the idea of video lessons, play-alongs, lectures, blackboard learning and more, presenting it all in a downloadable format as part of a take-it-anywhere iPad App.
When Jim Snidero isn’t writing, recording, or performing to sold-out audiences across the globe, he can often be found paying it forward, personally sharing his hard-earned knowledge with the next generation of jazz musicians at the college level. Snidero is an adjunct faculty member at The New School in New York, New Jersey City University and he’s been a visiting professor at some of the finest music institutions in the world, including Indiana University and Princeton University. In addition to sharing nuts-and-bolts nuggets of musical wisdom, Snidero also helps to spread the gospel of good equipment, as he endorses Selmer saxophones and D’Addario reeds.