Album Reviews

Peter Cincotti – On the Moon

(Universal Jazz) UK release date: 7 March 2005

Peter Cincotti must have been a nightmare to go to school with. Youknow the type. Every school has at least one. The classic over- achiever. Damien was the lad at my school. He was captain of the cricket team, centre forward for the football team, top of the class, a hit with the girls, effortlessly good looking and extremely punchable. I am sure Peter Cincotti’s classmates felt the same. An actor with roles in Spiderman2 and the recent Bob Darrin biopic Beyond The Sea.

A model,starring from the album cover beneath a floppy fringe like a baby faced DrCarter. His looks have just secured him a modelling contract for ZengaMenswear. If that wasn’t enough he is a musical prodigy. He startedsharing a stage with his hero Harry Connick Jr from the tender ageof seven. What a pain in the arse he must have been. I wonder if hebrought his famous friends in for a show and tell.

To my untrained ears the fingerprints of Harry Connick Jr,are all over this album. Like a Stars In Their Eyes version of his hero,Peter Cincotti voice is like a third hand Frank Sinatra.Themusic has been produced with a very modern sheen. Bright, crisp and clean,all bustling double bass and air brushed drums.

The opening St LouisBlues is built around a funky little sax riff and is pleasant enough,Cincotti piano playing initially complementary and not too showy.Unfortunately after a short while the urge to display his jazz chops gets thebetter of him. The final two minutes of the track are an exercise inpointless showmanship. Yes the boy can play piano but it goes on and on andup and down the scale like a vulgar Maria Carey vocal. Hey, whyuse one note when you can cram in eight!

The LP is a mixture of cover versions and originals. Two Gerry Goffinand Carole King standards, Some Kind of Wonderful and The Drifters’sublime Up On The Roof are tastefully but blandly performed. Soqueasily smooth the renditions, they could sit happily on an LP by label mateBarry Manilow and not sound out of place. Not really what youwould expect from a 20-year-old.

On The Moon, the first of Cincotti’s ownsongs on the album, was composed in a hotel room whilst on tour. Agentle piano melody backed by a rising string section that climaxes like abombastic Hollywood love scene. It contains a rhyme scheme so trite:hours, flowers, towers, that even a lovesick sixth former would blanch attexting it in a valentine’s message.

The album closes with Cherokee, a rite of passage for any buddingjazz musician. Proof that you can play with the big boys. A chance to earnyour body weight in Gitanes. It’s horrid, a constant flurry of notes,chord changes and blind alleys. A real “Jazz Odyssey”.

The album covers the same musical landscape as those cutting edgeswonder kids, Jamie Cullum and Michael Bubl�. Jazz-lite,all the political undercurrents or polemic intentions of jazz bleachedout. What’s left? Some stylist devices, that verge more towards easy- listening lift music than the spirit of Miles Davies or NinaSimone. Like caffeine-free diet coke, what’s the point when what’sleft is just so lacking in flavour.

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Peter Cincotti – On the Moon