For the past ten years, Jesse Snyder has been a prominent musical figure on the Big Island’s music scene. He’s come along way since his humble beginnings playing at a kava bar in Hawi, and while performing with the Hawaiian big band Kahulanui, he was a recipient of the Na Hoku Hanohano Award (Hawaiian Grammys) for 2018 Jazz Album of the Year.
Primarily known as a tenor sax player, he’s got multiple musical “tools” in his toolbelt to pick from and is quite versed with all of them – clarinet, baritone sax, Hawaiian nose flute, and ipu (gourd), flute, drums – sometimes playing several at the same time.
Snyder has been featured as a session player on numerous albums, but in 2020 he debuted his solo album MUSE. It’s an easy listening soft jazz collection of familiar covers ranging from Mose Alison to Thomas Dolby. Snyder artfully combines both old styles and new in a unique fashion. The record also features his singing debut – a style located somewhere between Michael Franks and Michael Bublé. Casual, not flashy.
The talented Snyder brought along most of the musicians featured on MUSE for a special Valentine’s Day livestream concert last Sunday on Kahilu Theatre’s new broadcast platform called Kahilu TV. You could see the enthusiasm on the players’ faces that they were eager to play a live gig once again after so many months in confinement – and they sounded fantastic, too! The date also marked the debut of Snyder’s new music video “Moon and Sand.”
Snyder ran through six songs in thirty-five minutes, which seemed way too short and just as his band was getting into a gro0ve. The MUSE band, as they were called for this particular occasion included Noa Eads (drums), Pat Eskildsen (guitar), Brian McCree (acoustic bass), Dwight Tokumoto (steel guitar), and Loren Wilken (piano and keyboards). If you’ve been on the island a while, you’ve probably seen them in various configurations and playing everything from reggae, classic rock, and even classical music.
After the show, Snyder and I sat down for a live post-show chat. The theatre archived it and it should be posted soon on Kahilu TV’s site.
In our conversation, Snyder expressed his desire to branch out and work with other local musicians. “I’d like to work with Kalani Pe’a,” said Snyder. “He does R&B, and I love R&B! I’m also looking forward to working with guitarist Pat Eskildsen (of Saddle Road Productions) on a new song he’s written.”
Snyder plans to continue to promote the MUSE album in the months ahead (he’s already released three singles from it) and is optimistic about future collaborations that will follow.
Notes & Links
Jesse Snyder & The Muse Band Setlist (35 minutes) | Waikiki | Do Nothin’ Till You Hear From Me |It Had To Be You | Forest Flower | Popsicle Toes | Your Molecular Structure |
Concert Date: 14/FEB/2021
Musicians: Jesse Snyder (vocals, baritone saxophone, clarinet), Noa Eads (drums), Pat Eskildsen (guitar), Brian McCree (acoustic bass), Dwight Tokumoto (steel guitar), and Loren Wilken (piano and keyboards).
To catch a show and stay up to date with the Kahilu Theatre’s new online platform Kahilu TV and connect with Jesse Snyder, click on the links below.
Photos: Steve Roby
About the author: Steve Roby is a music journalist, an L.A. Times bestselling author, and a Big Island filmmaker. He’s been featured in The NY Times, Rolling Stone, and Billboard Magazine. Roby is also the Editor of Big Island Music Magazine.