Ronald Snijders ‘The Nelson and Djosa Sessions’ LP/CD/DIG (V2 Benelux) 2/5

ronald-snijdersSome of you may be aware of earlier albums by Ronald Snijders, such as his debut, “Natural Sources”, or the follow-up, “A Safe Return”, which he released in the late ‘70s/early ‘80s. You are forgiven if they passed you by though; these were privately pressed and would not have been issued in great quantities or to a great deal of acclaim. Over time these early albums have become quite collectable. Born in Surinam, Snijders moved to the Netherlands to study in 1970, before following a career as a musician. Primarily a flautist, but able to turn his hand to other instruments as well, Snijders’ music is influenced by his homeland, and in particular Kaseko, a form of Afro-Surinamese popular music, which in itself draws upon multiple influences, including traditional drum ensembles, call and response, Jazz, Caribbean and Brazilian and Latin music, as well as jazz and funk.
Inspired by his story and the music from these early albums, Dutch producers Nelson and Djosa set about reinvigorating Snijders’ music by introducing him to a number of guest musicians and recording the resulting collaborations. The guests are a fairly diverse bunch including Ed Motta, Orlando Julius, The Heliocentrics, Dwight Trible, Bassekou Kouyate, trumpeter Avishai Cohen and Colombian harpist Edmar Castañeda.

On the face of it there are some enticing elements to this long player, a chance to revisit some ‘70s funk fusion with an eclectic and talented group of collaborators on board. But, and you probably knew a but was coming, it all seems to fall a bit flat. Whilst many of the tracks are pleasant enough none of them have me reaching for the repeat button. The collaborative process sees Snijders meeting in the middle with his guests, performing his compositions whilst introducing their style and direction. This makes for a varied selection with an emphasis on easy on the ear, light, funky grooves, infused with African, Brazilian or Latin rhythms.

Dwight Trible and drummer Jamire William’s pair of tunes retain a retro vibe to them, reminding me a bit of Acid Jazz groups like The Solsonics or Groove Collective. The original of “Brazilian Blue”, which featured Snijders on flute and guitar, has an airy, bossa feel to it. Here it features Mamao from Azymuth, doing what he does best, creating relaxed, warm, gently seductive melodies. I think the original just about edges it for me, but it’s a close run thing.

Elsewhere the new arrangements do not quite work for me. Ed Motta’s contribution, “Easy Man”, is below par and “Kasekojazz” featuring Avishai Cohen is little better. The original albums had a charm and creative spark to them that isn’t reproduced here, nor is the introduction of new musicians and styles enough to capture some of that spirit.

Overall, not so much a disappointing album, but one I’m left without strong feelings about one way or the other.

Andy Hazell