* With high school and college jazz bands churning out skilled instrumentalists by the thousands, how will these players find work? Only with talent, perseverance and luck, to judge by the experience of saxophonist Jim Snidero, who graduated in 1976 from Crossland High School in Temple Hills, Md. Snidero's quintet, featuring trumpeter Brian Lynch and drummer Billy Hart, will be at the One Step Down Friday, Saturday and New Year's Eve. Reuben Brown will be at the piano, Steve Novosel on upright bass.

"I auditioned and got into North Texas State University," explains the bebop and post-bebop altoist, who as a high school student made frequent visits to Blues Alley and other D.C. jazz clubs. "They had nine jazz ensembles at North Texas State and the last two years I played in the best one, 'The One O'Clock Band.' " The band made several albums, toured the U.S. and performed in Switzerland. Upon graduation Snidero moved to New York and was asked to join the quartet of organist Brother Jack McDuff, who had never heard Snidero play. "That's where I got a lot of my experience playing blues," he says. "We did about 250 gigs all over the states." Snidero's current schedule includes Mondays at Lush Life with the Akiyoshi-Tabackin Big Band and gigs with his own group in Montreal and Indianapolis. He will spend February and March in Europe with French horn player Tom Varner's combo.

"It's kind of like living on the edge at times," says Snidero. "Sometimes the business is real good and sometimes it's slow." CAPTION: Picture, Saxophonist Jim Snidero. Copyright (c) 1984, David Tan