Inevitably, on his debut album, Peter Cincotti is still in the phenomenon stage of his career. The wonder is that a 19-year-old can play jazz piano and sing at such a professional level, and the issue of how distinctively he does it is one largely to be tabled for the present. Even so, the charm of his work lies in its stylistic openness, which might not be expected of a jazz performer who is older. Cincotti makes no distinction between the kind of pop songs adopted for jazz interpretation in the past and more contemporary pop songs that have not been much used for such treatment. In his liner notes, he says he's always wondered what Blood, Sweat & Tears' hit "Spinning Wheel" would sound like as an instrumental played by Erroll Garner, and so he tries to do it that way, and the answer is it doesn't sound bad at all. Mixing the Beatles' "Fool on the Hill" with Nat King Cole's "Nature Boy" may not have been his idea, but it is typical of the eclectic approach he takes to music, and it works. And then there's the closing track, "Rainbow Connection," a Muppets theme that winks good-naturedly at Cincotti's youth. His originals are not particularly impressive, and the acknowledged influence of his mentor, Harry Connick, Jr., is obvious, especially vocally, but Cincotti, supported by a good rhythm section (David Finck, bass, and Kenny Washington, drums) and the tenor saxophone of Scott Kreitzer on three tracks, is a promising pianist with a good feel for ensemble playing, and that may assure him a career even after the crowds attracted by his prodigy status and publicity machine subside.
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann