Matt Criscuolo

Lotus Blossom

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    7
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A nice sophomore album from Matt Criscuolo, a growing alto saxophonist. The sound is maturing yet, with notes of a university jazz ensemble seeming to poke through now and then. The performances by Criscuolo are very well crafted however, the tones varying between homages to Miles and company and his own wanderings. The rest of the band spends most of the time holding the backup slot, though in various spots they take the front for a spell, beyond the usual 12 bars of soloing (most notably pianist Larry Willis in the final track of the album). Trombonist Steve Davis penned a few songs here, and Criscuolo penned a few. Nonetheless, the band does its best work on those works by others -- Billy Strayhorn's title track, Wayne Shorter's "Big Push." Not up to the old Blue Note standards yet certainly, but they're getting there. Worth a listen or two.

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