Nocturne for Ava slips into noir territory?under night's cover, fedora pulled down low, trench coat collar up, immersed in a night of blurry neon glowing through a low misty fog, much in the fashion of its predecessor, Fallen Angel (Sons of Sound, 2006). Both sets celebrate noir classics and movie tunes written for or inspired by the darker side of the celluloid experience. They are moodily atmospheric, melancholic, and seductive, with a sometimes morose inward feeling in the mode of Miles Davis' Ascenseur Pour l'Echafaud (Fontana Records, 1958), but with an expanded pallet.
The Film Noir Project is the brainchild of guitarist Bob Sneider and vibraphonist Joe Locke. On Nocturne for Ava they present film score material including Michel Legrand's "Windmills of Your Mind," Duke Ellington's "Flirtibird," from Otto Preminger's 1959 classic, Anatomy of a Murder, and Marcus Miller's "Los Feliz," written for Miles Davis and the 1987 film Siesta. The disc also includes a Bob Sneider original, "Black Dahlia," inspired by a gristly Hollywood murder?and, incidentally, celebrated by Bob Belden in the marvelous but overlooked orchestra jazz release, Black Dahlia (Blue Note Records, 2001)?and pianist Paul Hofmann's "Kiss Me Kill Me," featuring a creeping piano trio section that gives way to brief, tasty solos by trumpeter John Sneider and tenor saxophonist Grant Stewart before a rollback to the trio mode that leads into Locke's solo.
Locke penned the title tune, a homage to Ava Gardner?holding, in its six minutes, the seductive allure and smoldering beauty of its inspiration and, perhaps, a sense of romance lost.
The ensemble sound boasts a rich texture, with vibes, piano, guitar, drums, and percussion. Like the movie songs (and more) it presents, it's a captivating, soundtrack-like experience.