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Groove Merchant

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Album Review

John Cocuzzi has long been a favorite at jazz parties for his swinging vibes, in addition to occasionally taking a turn at the piano and singing as well; he's been a featured artist since the inception of the Atlanta Jazz Party. But in a career that dates back to the 1990s, he has been recorded only sporadically, and this 2012 CD is his first CD to be issued on a widely distributed jazz label. For these sessions, Cocuzzi sticks to vibes with a few vocals, surrounded by a number of musicians who've played with him at jazz parties and/or on record dates: pianist John Sheridan, guitarist James Chirillo, bassist Frank Tate, drummer Joe Ascione, and clarinetist Antti Sarpila (who doubles on soprano sax). What's apparent right away is that the vibraphonist planned ahead by selecting a mix of familiar and forgotten songs, while finding a way to give them a fresh sound. Though Cocuzzi is a strong soloist, he isn't one to hog the spotlight, satisfied with taking a couple of choruses before sharing space with his mates. Cole Porter's "Dream Dancing" is recast as an easygoing samba, showcasing Sarpilla's playful clarinet, while the subtle swing of the vintage "Mellow Guitar" puts the spotlight on Chirillo, Cocuzzi, Sarpilla (on soprano), and Sheridan in turn. Cocuzzi's warm vocal in "Last Night on the Back Porch (I Loved Her Most of All)" is sincere rather than salacious, even though the song was considered suggestive when it was written in 1920s; it was considered wholesome enough to be recorded by Mitch Miller for his Singalong with Mitch series. "Je Ne Sais Pa" is a delicious swinger penned by Lionel Hampton and Hank Jones that sounds like it was written at the heyday of the Swing Era; Sarpilla's alternately gritty and lightly swinging clarinet and Cocuzzi's rapid-fire vibes keep it lively. Fats Waller's "Minor Drag" is full of pep as well, focusing on Sheridan's stride chops, Sarpilla's fiery soprano, and the leader's economical but potent vibes. Groove Merchant reinforces what jazz party fans have known for years: John Cocuzzi swings effortlessly every time, inspiring those sharing the stage or studio with him.

Groove Merchant, John Cocuzzi
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  • 9,99 €
  • Genres: Jazz, Music
  • Released: 10 January 2012

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