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Matt Criscuolo: Blippity Blat

Glenn Astarita By

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Matt Criscuolo is a restaurateur in Connecticut, but also a veteran alto saxophonist and not just a hobbyist with spare finances to record albums. With his fourth outing as a leader, he once again aligns some of the finest jazz artisans such as, pianist Larry Willis and French horn maestro, John Clark. Criscuolo possess a unique tone that often resonates with an inherent stereo sound, bridging a touch of lower register warmth with the alto sax's altissimo register. He combines a forceful and fluent line of attack. Moreover, the studio processing of this session sparks remembrances of '70s style jazz recordings, most notably the now defunct CTI Records label, where dabs of echo and reverb cast a full-bodied soundstage, while also accentuating depth.

Criscuolo gels on several medium-tempo works largely comprised of originals. He's a climactically oriented storyteller and elevates the pitch to emit a sense of the dynamic. On "Generally Not," the band renders a pumping vibe, tinted with sweet overtones, and fuses bop and swing into a harmonious arrangement during "The Rock." His pieces contain memorable hooks and finger-snapping grooves. And on "The Larry Willis I Know," drummer Billy Williams' melodic toms rolls help craft an exotic ballad, sculptured by Criscuolo's warm, but deterministic lines. Nonetheless, it's a democratic agenda where all band members receive plentiful opportunities to stretch and improvise.

The ensemble closes the proceedings with an afterhours aura on George Gershwin's "My Ship," where Criscuolo's breathy voicings, searching phraseology and extended notes are accented and paced by Willis' melodic comping. Overall, Blippity Blat is an upbeat and altogether engaging set, wondrously recorded and showcasing the band's synchronous interplay amid a host of luminously enacted soloing spots.

Track Listing: Shuckin’ The Cob; Blippity Blat; Somethin’ Like That; Generally Not; Inventiscovered; Ronnie’s Tune; The Rock; Dance Cadaverous; The Larry Willis I Know; My Ship.

Personnel: Larry Willis: piano; John Clark: French Horn; Billy Williams: drums; Gerald Cannon: bass; Matt Criscuolo: saxophone

Title: Blippity Blat | Year Released: 2014 | Record Label: Self Produced

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