Matt Criscuolo – Lotus Blossom – Label M

by | Nov 14, 2006 | Jazz CD Reviews | 0 comments

Matt Criscuolo –  Lotus Blossom  – Label M  02600,  73:24  ***1/2:

(Matt Criscuolo, alto sax; Larry Willis, piano; Steve Davis, trombone; Phil Bowler, bass; Eric McPherson, drums; Ray Mantilla, percussion)

Matt Criscuolo is back with a strong second CD issue. It was a two-year wait between CDs and the latest effort, Lotus Blossom, shows some maturing in Matt’s tone. His choice of sidemen shows that he is well respected in the jazz community as on this 2006 release he is joined by the veteran star pianist Larry Willis, and journeyman trombonist Steve Davis.

The choice of tracks for this CD is a mixture of band member compositions along with the Strayhorn staple Lotus Blossom and Wayne Shorter’s Big Push. The playing is largely ensemble based with the leader generously allotting time to Willis and Davis. This is most evident on To Wisdom the Prize, Parakeet Lovesong, and Iron Willis. The leader does have his own features, however, as his alto takes the main focus on the ballad, Everything I Have Is Yours and Julian’s Pencil, which is dedicated to Matt’s five year old son. The latter track also has a nice solo by Steve Davis.

Not to be ignored is Larry Willis, for whom Davis penned Iron Willis. Willis has many CDs of his own (including several on the Mapleshade label), yet always finds time to mentor young musicians. He has picked a fine musician in Criscuolo. Keep an eye out for Matt. Let’s hope it’s not two years till his next release.

Tracklist: Lotus Blossom, To Wisdom the Prize, The Big Push, Everything I Have is Yours, Spirit Waltz, Parakeet Lovesong, Julian’s Pencil, Exciting World of Jazz, Song for Kerry, Iron Willis

– Jeff Krow

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