Summertime in Sanremo
Splasc(h) Records CDH 809.2

There's a tradition in the book publishing and movie businesses that major releases are left for the remainder of the year, with the summertime reserved for less challenging fare. So what can you say about a CD that titles itself the same way?

There's truth in advertising here all right, where the strongest adjective that can be applied to this session is pleasant. The 50-year-old American saxophonist and his crew do their utmost on this program of six standards and three "originals", which sound as if they were put together into the studio. The end result, while agreeable, won't make it into any jazz history books. Face it, does the world need yet another version of "The Days of Wine And Roses" or "Stardust", no matter how well played?

If you answered yes, however, then you'll find much to like on SUMMERTIME, which resembles many of those relaxed swinging sessions that were turned out by the gross in the 1950s and 1960s. You won't be bothered by discordant sounds, odd noises, wild tempos or truthfully, any note out of place either, since every demisemiquaver is exactly where it's supposed to be. With a soothing cushion of vibes, guitar and polite drumming bolstering the soloists, you can still hear something similar to this in nightclubs from San Francisco to San Remo every night of the week. Every patron recognizes the tunes and happily — but not too loudly — beats time with swizzle sticks. Solo follows solo without upsetting the crowd and all know exactly which notes will follow which other ones.

You can't fault the musicianship here, though. A hardworking journeyman, Schneider is one of those "have rhythm section will travel" players like the late Zoot Sims. SUMMERTIME, recorded in August, must have been a real "hornman's holiday" as well, giving him the chance to relax in studio garb of shorts and sneakers.

Under the obvious main influence of Sonny Rollins, Schneider produces versions of "The Night Has A Thousand Eyes" and "You Don't Know What Love Is" where he's virtually Rollins' doppelganger. Meanwhile Dulbecco favors Milt Jackson throughout, and Gibellini pays duple homage to Jim Hall and Wes Montgomery.

Even "Orage Rouge", the toughest original, which features Arnold happily smashing away and Schneider overblowing in his solos is cut off abruptly, as if the band feared offending the afternoon beachfront customers. "Italian Movie", the longest track, is also no salute to Pasolini or Fellini. Instead its genesis seems to be one of those frothy Mediterranean sex comedies, peopled with stock characters where everyone lives happily ever after at the end.

If undemanding jazz, this side of background music that matches comfortable swimwear is your preference, then this session may attract you. Others, who appreciate foot-tapping sounds, should note that this can be difficult in sandals.

We prefer the grit be obvious, not on the beachfront but in the music.

—Ken Waxman

Track Listing: 1. My One And Only Love 2. The Night Has A Thousand Eyes 3. Mohawk 4. You Don't Know What Love Is 5. Orage Rouge 6. The Days of Wine And Roses 7. Italian Movie 8. Tropax 9. Stardust

Personnel: Larry Schneider (tenor saxophones); Sandro Gibellini (guitar); Andy Dulbecco (vibes); Dodo Goya (bass); John Arnold (drums)