BLIPPITY BLAT (2013)
Larry Willis – Piano
John Clark – French Horn
Billy Williams – Drums
Gerald Cannon – Bass
Matt Criscuolo – Saxophone
Recorded August 12, 2013 at The Carriage House Studios, Stamford, CT.
Produced by Matt Criscuolo.
Mixed and mastered by Ian Montagnese at The Carriage House Studios, Stamford, CT.
Well known in Wilton and Ridgefield, CT as the owner of several notable restaurants (Wilton Pizza & Jazzeria, Toozy Patza Pizza, Bistro 7 Wilton and Piccolo Pizza & Pasta Jazzeria), Matt Criscuolo is also a world class alto-saxophonist. This is not a situation where a part-time musician gets together with some friends and jams a few bebop standards. Criscuolo is a superior improviser with a sound of his own, and he performs sophisticated and modern originals. His tone is distinctive (not sounding like any other player), he has no problem consistently coming up with fresh ideas, and he has developed his own voice on his instrument.
As for Matt Criscuolo’s associates on Blippity Blat, they each have their own musical identity. Pianist-keyboardist Larry Willis has uplifted a countless number of sessions and recordings by everyone from Jackie McLean and Lee Morgan to Branford Marsalis and Steve Turre plus 20 CDs of his own. John Clark is one of the most vital jazz French horn players of the past 30 years. Bassist Gerald Cannon has worked with virtually everyone, always supplying modern and driving bass lines. Billy Williams regularly plays drums with Larry Willis, Cyrus Chestnut, Warren Wolf and other major artists.
Blippity Blat, Matt Criscuolo’s fourth CD as a leader (following Streets Of New York, Lotus Blossom and Melancholia), consists of seven challenging originals by the altoist, along with the standard “My Ship,” Larry Willis’ “The Rock” and Wayne Shorter’s “Dance Cadaverous.” The blend between French horn and alto on these pieces makes this set particularly memorable.
The opening “Shuckin’ The Cob” sets the standard for what follows. Harmonically adventurous, the piece nevertheless swings, giving each of the musicians an opportunity to solo. “Blippity Blat” creatively alternates a heated 4/4 section with sections in jazz waltz time. “Somethin’ Like That” has a melancholy melody and features Criscuolo stretching out with the rhythm section with Willis dropping out part of the time. After the driving “Generally Not,” Criscuolo digs into his ballad “Inventiscovered,” creating a mature statement. The explorative modal piece “Ronnie’s Tune,” the uptempo romp “The Rock” and an atmospheric rendition of “Dance Cadaverous” precede “The Larry Willis I Know” which has a groove slightly reminiscent of Ahmad Jamal’s famous version of “Poinciana.” A tasteful rendition of “My Ship” concludes this enjoyable set.
Blippity Blat, which features Matt Criscuolo and his musicians in prime form, can simply be described as high quality 21st century modern jazz.
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