Many young musicians today put out records that feature a wide range of playing styles. It’s a healthy trend, especially when the program makes intrinsic musical sense from start to finish. However, not many musicians make their records sound as elegant and sophisticated as Snaggle. The record in question is The Long Slog and it comes courtesy of the well-known Toronto musician, Brownman Ali. Snaggle is a quintet comprising six young Torontonians and the smoky syntax of their keyboards, guitar, tenor saxophone, trumpet, bass and drums is quite unique.
Each of the instrumentalists brilliantly addresses keyboardist Nick Maclean’s compositions, bringing the music’s intense rhythmic interplay and extended lyrical passages to life. Each of Maclean’s charts is superlative although Theorum and Lagaan, which feature the electric trumpet of Brownman Ali, are especially riveting. Bassist Doug Moore does contribute Nonuhno, which features not only a tongue-twisting title, but also a tantalizing pulse.
While the relentless swirling down into the furthest reaches of their instruments’ capabilities might be the first aspect of this record to captivate the listener, one is soon drawn into the music’s inner machinations – the sensuous inner rhythm, vivid harmonic colours and the overall wonders and mysteries of the music. The wonder of the musicians’ playing is how engagingly, articulately, flowingly and creatively they pour themselves into the songs, adding further lustre to this recording, which is stylish, responsive and richly atmospheric.