New York-based multi-instrumentalist Jerry Vivino, a session player and member of the Max Weinberg 7 house band on the Conan O'Brien late night TV show for the past thirteen years, gives us an offering of an entertaining blend of straight-ahead jazz, bebop and other styles on Walkin' with the Wazmo. On this diverse selection of eight originals and three covers, Vivino works with fourteen fellow New York session musicians, who play on different tracks. Among them are trumpeter Lew Solof, drummer Shawn Pelton (a regular of the Saturday Night Live band), bassist Mike Merritt and brother Jimmy Vivino on guitar (both regulars of the O'Brien show). Jerry Vivino is a talented atrist who not only performs on tenor with exceptional skill, but also blows a mean alto on "I'm Mad About You," plays flute on five other tunes, and employs baritone vocals on three choice cuts.
Aside from straight jazz numbers like an upbeat and groovin' version of Sonny Rollins' "Pent Up House" and the cool-running Herbie Hancock piece "Dolphin Dance," Vivino throws in an array of samba and funky rhythms on this set, which offers a bit of everything. You get a cushy samba feel on "Bellissima," in contrast to the spicy "Knock Me A Kiss," which features a lyrical dose of the leader's vocals. The pace changes with "The Fried Piper" and the title piece, "Walkin' with the Wazmo," both firmly grounded in the funky jazz of today. For a taste of a little bebop, tune in to "Cats 'R' Us," which finds Vivino on an excellent high-pitched tenor scream. The man makes a splash on the beautiful "Dorado Beach," a sweet Latin jazz slant with Vivino on flute.
I have to admit it: this is a truly fun and enjoyable album from all angles. Vivino delivers quite an impressive performancewhether on saxophones, flute or voice, the man does it all. A very fine recording with a tasteful variety of music that will please hard-core aficionados and discerning jazz audiences alike.
Track Listing: Pent Up House; Walkin' with the Wazmo; Cats 'R' Us; Dorado Beach; Montelena Circle; The Fried Piper; Knock Me A Kiss; Red Moon; Bellissima; Dolphin Dance; I'm Mad About You.
Personnel: Jerry Vivino: tenor, alto saxophone, flute & vocals; Brian Charette: piano (1,3-5), Hammond
B-3 organ; Ken Livinsky: piano (11); Lew Solof: trumpet (3,8); Michael Morreale: trumpet
(2,7); Mike Fahn: trombone (1,5,7); Kermit Driscoll: bass (1,3,5,8,9); Mike Merrit: bass
(2,6,4,7,10); Shhawn Pelton: drums (1,3,5,8-9); James Wormworth: drums (2,4,6,7,10);
Ray Marchia: drums (11); Fred Walcott: percussion (4,6); Jimmy Vivino: guitar (2); Peter
McCan: guitar (9): Greg Skaff: guitar (11); Tony Ferrari: vocals (2).