Melancholia (2008) – Liner Notes

Melancholia (2008)
Matthew Criscuolo – Alto Sax

MATT CRISCUOLO alto saxophone;
LARRY WILLIS piano, string arrangements;

It’s wonderful when you hear music that makes you feel something or brings you to a time and place in your heart and mind. This was the case for me when I heard Larry Willis’s record “Sanctuary.” It had beautiful compositions and string arrangements done by Larry. It was the source for my inspiration to make this record. And for this I’m greateful. I think inspiration is a wonderful thing, and when it comes my way, I grab it and hold on. When I play out in clubs or concert venues, I usually play more hard driving, progressive jazz in the lineage of Bunky Green, Gary Bartz, Wayne Shorter, etc.

But on this record I wanted to create something that would reveal its character the way Chopin or Rachmaninoff would. Phil Bowler is my first choice, and many others as well, for Upright Bass. He is an endless treasure trove of ideas and has a sound and concept that is so uniquely his own. He shares the spotlight with other greats such Fred Hopkins, Mingus, and Ron Carter. He is adventurous, exciting, and giving. Phil is a gem on the east coast and I’m glad he is a friend. I’m honored to keep his company on and off the stage.

My father always said “show me your friends, and I’ll tell you who you are.” Billy Drummond keeps company with just about anybody who is great in jazz. He is Larry’s friend and that in and of itself speaks volumes. Billy has a touch and sensibility that is sought after by musicians all over the world. He is frightening as a musician and warm as a person. I am grateful to have worked with him.

Larry… Larry is my personal Buddha. He is extremely smart and knowledgeable. Very considerate, kind, and giving. When you hear Larry comp or solo, experience his harmonic and rhythmic approach, or hear his string arrangements and compostion, he’s not only exciting and hard driving, but beautiful, too. And this reflects who he is as a person as well. Complex, rich, and beautiful. He has impacted my life personally and musically and for this I am honored and grateful.

This record wouldn’t sound like it does, at all, if it hadn’t been for Larry. The string players: Dave Teggar, Rachel Golub, Whitney LaGrange, and Julie Goodale, were amazing NYC musicians who came in and accurately and professionally took care of business. They were a pleasure to deal with and were incredible musicians. I hope you enjoy the sounds you hear and that the music helps you reflect on your life as a soundtrack to your own personal movie called “Your Life.” If this music puts you in a pensive mood — good. If it makes you reflect on days gone by — great. If it makes you cry — wonderful. My job will be done if it makes you feel something in your heart.

“Criscuolo is self assured and technically solid, with a cool, ethereal sound that reminds of someone akin to James Moody or Lou Donaldson. He is an engaging soloist. His music pretty much speaks for itself in a warm and well-modulated voice.”

“He has developed a distinctive tone, open and woody. He assays solid be-bop solos that show a sure command of the received vocabulary.”

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