He studied clarinet as a child but changed to tenor saxophone at the age of 15. He began his professional career playing at weddings and as a member of various rock bands. In 1972 Schnitter formed his own group in New York. After playing with Ted Dunbar (1973) he began his most important association, with Art Blakey (1974-9). He worked with Freddie Hubbard from 1979, recording with him in 1980 and 1981; he also played with Frank Foster, Charles Earland, Groove Holmes, and Johnny Lytle. Schnitter's style is based firmly on hard bop; his sound has been compared in particular with Dexter Gordon's, though the influences of Sonny Rollins and John Coltrane are also detectable.
As leader (all recorded for Muse): Invitation (1976, 5108); Goliath (1977, 5153); Thundering (1978, 5197); Glowing (1979, 5222)
As sideman: S. Stitt: In Walked Sonny (1975, Sonet 691); A. Blakey: Backgammon (1976, Roulette 5003); In my Prime (1977-8, Timeless 114, 118); In this Korner (1978, Concord 68) Sketch...(Omix 2003)
L. Feather and I. Gitler: The Encyclopedia of Jazz in the Seventies (New York, 1976/R1987)
C. Delaunay: "Nice Plus ... Dave Schnitter," Jazz hot, Jazz-hot, no.330 (1976), 20
A. Lange: Review of Thundering (1978), Down Beat, xlvii/4 (1980), 44
J. Howard: "A Message from Today," Jazz Forum [international edition], no.70 (1981), 38
Paul Rinzler The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz, © Macmillan Reference Ltd 1988