The music on this recording requires close, attentive listening...Schnitter plays less symmetrically but more lyrically now, favoring the upper register of the horn and being less conscious of the bar lines.
It's as though he's abandoned the influence and powerful breathstream of his former hero, Dexter Gordon, and turned to Ornette Coleman and John Coltrane for conceptual inspiration. Schnitter's sound is now somewhere between Hank Mobley's warm muskiness and Coltrane's direct, vibratoless approach. It bears a mournful, elegiac quality that no doubt tells a story in itself. Regardless, it's one of the most distinctive sounds on the modern tenor scene, immediately recognizable, as are his melodic ideas, especially the ascending, staccato-like phrases that he uses to counter predictability.
Reviews"Folks who remember Dave Schnitter as a hard-bop tenor player with the Jazz Messengers in the '70s might be a bit surprised by his latest offering. Sketch (Sunnyside), recorded in early 2001, does indeed demonstrate Schnitter's continued ease with that classic approach, but with its lack of a chordal instrument, quirky stop-and-go compositions by Schnitter or trumpeter James Zollar ('Dili Dali,' 'Sketch,' 'Sooner or Later,' 'Flirtation With Faust,' 'Sputnik'), and sometimes free-jazz improvisational phraseology, it also shows the marked influence of Ornette Coleman's early groups. It's on the standards 'For All We Know,' 'All or Nothing at All' and 'You Don't Know What Love Is' where Schnitter is most likely to show his Coltrane and Joe Henderson influences and Zollar to demonstrate his considerable hard-bop skills (he can also do a fine New Orleans gut-bucket imitation). With long-time associate Jimmy Madison on drums and the broadly experienced Thomas Bramerie on bass, the group achieves a high level of cohesion that enables them to interact quite effectively. Sketch is a satisfying combination of the familiar and the unpredictable." - David Franklin, Jazz Times