John Cocuzzi Quintet – Swingin’ And Burnin’ (2000)

John Cocuzzi Quintet - Swingin' And Burnin' (2000)
Artist: John Cocuzzi Quintet
Album: Swingin’ And Burnin’
Genre: Mainstream Jazz, Swing
Origin: USA
Released: 2000
Quality: mp3, 320 kbps
Benny’s Bugle (3:42)
Broadway (6:52)
What Did I Do To Be So Black And Blue? (5:14)
Things Ain’t What They Used To Be (6:51)
Crazy About My Baby (5:22)
Slipped Disc (4:30)
Cheek To Cheek (6:42)
You’re Nobody Till Somebody Loves You (3:27)
I Don’t Stand A Ghost Of A Chance With You (6:10)
Lady Be Good (4:19)
The Curse Of An Aching Heart (3:46)
Comes Love (4:54)
‘Tis Autumn (4:35)


John Cocuzzi is a versatile, talented multi-instrumentalist jazz musician who, with his quintet, stretches out for an entertaining 60 minutes-plus of solid, straight ahead jazz on this very good album. A Washington, D.C. native, Cocuzzi gained an appreciation of jazz at an early age listening to his record collection and to his father, who was a percussionist with the U.S. Marine Band. Initially studying piano and then drums after hearing Lionel Hampton, vibes were added to his arsenal of instruments. Swingin’ and Burnin’ revisits the small group swing of the ’30s and ’40s popularized by Benny Goodman, Hampton, Artie Shaw, and others. Cocuzzi adds his own flavor along with some artful arrangements to such warhorses from the past as “Slipped Disc,” “Benny’s Bugle,” and “You’re Nobody Till Somebody Loves You.” On the latter, Cocuzzi shows off his vocal skills along with a boogie woogie piano. “Broadway” epitomizes the adroit swinging of the quintet, with each member of the group getting a chance to show their wares during the seven minutes they devote to this Teddy McRae/Bill Bird melody. The New Orleans idiom is represented on the CD as well with “What Did I Do to Be So Black and Blue?” This tune, a favorite of Louis Armstrong, is done slow drag featuring muted vibes’ mallet by Cocuzzi working with a very soulful clarinet by Allan Vaché. This track is one of the highlights of the album.

This session is in no way limited to up beat “swingin’ and burnin'” pieces. There’s some pretty slow stuff here as well. “Ghost of A Chance” features electrically enhanced Cocuzzi vibes, coupled with some imaginative bass by John Previti. “Cheek to Cheek” belongs to veteran Washington D.C. guitar player, Steve Abshire. Abshire, who has graced the albums of jazz diva Ronnie Wells, plays in a calm, flowing fashion bringing out the best this lovely melody has to offer. “Things Ain’t What They Used to Be’, another slow piece, spotlights a bluesy Cocuzzi piano with Big John Maher’s drums laying a solid foundation. Vaché and Cocuzzi, on clarinet and vibes respectively, combine on a striking”Comes Love” with Vaché’s impulsive and sometimes wailing clarinet recalling Artie Shaw’s 1949 rendition. The album’s coda brings Cocuzzi’s cheerful voice to the mike again in a pretty rendition of “‘Tis Autumn” accompanying himself on the piano and showing a romantic side with the ivories. This is an agreeable ending to a highly recommended album.
Review by Dave Nathan