Nocturne For Ava is the second release from the Film Noir Project, guitarist Bob Sneider and vibraphonist Joe Locke's homage to Noir classics and other dark-hued compositions that offer a cinematic ambiance. Whereas the group's debut, Fallen Angel (Sons of Sound) conjured a dark, atmospheric setting matching its title, this second record expands the group's range, offering less strict mood music (in a good way) and more in the Jazz vein. To wit, the outing begins with a sultry, light Latin take on "Last Tango in Paris," while the group goes the Blue Note route on Herbie Hancock's "Theme From Blow Up," with Locke channeling Bobby Hutcherson's brilliance. The midtempo Jazz of Hofmann's "Kiss Me, Kill Me" (with a surprise ending thanks to the femme fatale" or Duke Ellington's Blues-tinged "Flirtbird" also speak to such ethereal Jazz shadings.
Keeping on track, however, is the smoky ballad, "Afteglow" featuring John Sneider's muted trumpet and Hofmann's luscious hues, the mysterious Latin "Windmills Of Your Mind" with Bob Sneider's acoustic guitar up front, as well as the suspended airiness of "Nocture for Ava." As for the more ominous cuts, the lovely undulations of "Laura" make it perhaps the most sensitive piece, inspired by Tim Horner's dancing cymbal work, which also inspires the haunting "Black Dahlia." What the Film Noir Project has accomplished is to spotlight arrangements of enticing film music and original compositions within this realm, in conjunction with superlative musicianship that matches the beauty of the compositions.