John Cocuzzi is a versatile, talented multi-instrumentalist jazz musician who with some other very talented musicians, stretch out for an entertaining 60 minutes plus of solid, straight ahead jazz music on this very good album, Swingin' and Burnin'. A Washington, D.C. native, Cocuzzi gained an appreciation of jazz at an early age listening to his record collection and to his father who was a percussionist with the U.S. Marine Band. Initially studying piano and then drums, after hearing Lionel Hampton, vibes were added to his instrumental arsenal.
This album revisits the small group swing of the 1930's and 1940's popularized by Benny Goodman, Lionel Hampton, John Kirby and others. Cocuzzi adds his own flavor along with some artful arrangements to those warhorses from the past such as "Slipped Disc", and "You're Nobody Till Somebody Loves You." On the latter, Mr. Cocuzzi shows off his vocal skills along with a boogie woogie piano. "Broadway" spotlights each member of the group during the seven minutes devoted to this Teddy McRae/Bill Bird melody (the liner notes erroneously list Benny Goodman as the composer). New Orleans style is here is with "What Did I Do to Be So Black and Blue? "This tune, a favorite of Louis Armstrong, is done in a New Orleans slow drag featuring muted vibes' mallet by Cocuzzi working with a very soulful clarinet by Allan Vaché. Vaché is in the vanguard of restoring the clarinet as a vital jazz instrument.
This session is in no way limited to up beat "swinging' and burnin'" pieces. There's some really pretty slow stuff on this CD as well. A dreamy "Ghost of A Chance" features electrically enhanced Cocuzzi vibes, coupled with some imaginative bass by John Previti. "Cheek to Cheek" belongs to long time Washington D.C. guitarist, Steve Abshire. Abshire, who has graced the albums of jazz diva Ronnie Wells, plays in a calm, flowing fashion, bringing out the best this lovely melody has to offer. Vaché and Cocuzzi unite on a dazzling "Comes Love" with Vaché's impulsive and sometimes wailing clarinet recalling Artie Shaw's 1949 rendition of this tune. Abshire gets in some good licks on this cut. Once again, the rhythm of Maher and John Previti's bass establish and keep the beat. The album's coda brings Cocuzzi's light voice to the mike again in a pretty rendition of "‘Tis Autumn" accompanying himself on the piano and showing a romantic touch with the ivories. This is a pleasant ending to an entertaining album.
<|B>Tracks:Benny's Bugle; Broadway; What Did I Do to Be So Black and Blue?; Things Ain't What they Used to Be; Crazy about My Baby; Slipped Disc; Cheek to Cheek; You're Nobody Till Somebody Loves You*; I Don't Stand a Ghost of a Chance with You; Lady Be Good; The Curse of an Aching Heart; Comes Love;` Tis Autumn <|B>
Personnel: Benny's Bugle; Broadway; What Did I Do to Be So Black and Blue?; Things Ain't What they Used to Be; Crazy about My Baby; Slipped Disc; Cheek to Cheek; You're Nobody Till Somebody Loves You*; I Don't Stand a Ghost of a Chance with You; Lady Be Good; The Curse of an Aching Heart; Comes Love;` Tis Autumn <|B>John Cocuzzi - Vibes, Piano, Vocal; Allan Vach