Monday, October 13, 2014

Matt Criscuolo: blippity blat

Jazzeria Records
By Ric Bang
Buy CD: blippity blat

Matt Criscuolo leads two lives. In Connecticut, he’s probably better known as a businessman, since he owns several restaurants. But as a musician, this self-released album is his fourth as a leader. His instrument is alto sax; for this album, he fronts a quintet consisting of piano (Larry Willis), bass (Gerald Cannon), drums (Billy Williams) and — somewhat unexpectedly — French horn (John Clark).
Criscuolo and his fellow players composed all but one of these 10 tunes; the sole exception is a truly beautiful rendition of George Gershwin’s “My Ship.” Followers of this blog know that I’m partial to performances of standards from the Great American Songbook, because it allows for comparisons with other artists who have played the same songs.  
This handling of “My Ship,” by itself, sufficiently demonstrates the group’s excellence. (And I’m enjoying the other tracks, as well!)
Criscuolo's tone is soft and expressive and, when blended with the French horn, produces an easy-on-the-ears melodic line. You’ll thoroughly enjoy listening to this combo; the sound is so smooth that it likely would stifle frivolous conversation around the table of any jazz club where these guys would perform.

And I’d love to be at one of those tables.

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