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Peter Cincotti: Live at the Iridium

| June 15, 2017

Peter Cincotti

Live at the Iridium

Iridium, NYC, June 13, 2017

Reviewed by Marilyn Lester for Cabaret Scenes

Peter Cincotti

For those of us who’ve been following Peter Cincotti since his performance days as a teenager, his evolution over the years has often presented the need for adjustment. Early on, and in his first two CD releases, he was a master of standards, possibly headed toward a career in the mold of Harry Connick, Jr., one of his mentors. But Cincotti, who has more interest in writing his own songs, rather than merely interpreting them, has been transitioning, and has come to rest in the mold of Billy Joel and alternative rock. His turn at the Iridium was keyed to the release of his fifth CD, Long Way from Home, with all numbers written by Cincotti. His opener, the title song from the album, was a high energy rock-based number with all cylinders firing. Through similarly power-up numbers, such as “Stories for Another Day” and “Sexy,” the objective of big sound was blazingly realized – perhaps a bit too much. What might be appropriate for a stadium was overkill in the Iridium’s intimate space. Over-amping and ultra-bass overwhelmed the sound balance, yielding a distortion that did no favors for Cincotti’s delivery. Drummer Joe Nero and bassist and synth bass player Lex Sadler backed up the piano man with the required verve.

Live at the Iridium was music heavy, but in the set-ups and requisite narrative Cincotti, a “you guys” native New Yorker through and through, proved full of charm and youthful energy. As a member of that small tribe of singing pianists, he fits the template of piano skills often having the edge over vocal capabilities. As a singer, he is good, with stellar interpretive skills, a great range, vocal control, and excellent phrasing. He also knows about dynamics and how to deliver a song properly without belting. Most of these skills recede to the background in this new territory of alternative rock. When Cincotti played solo piano, as on “Sounds of Summer,” it was a treat to hear the pure Cincotti return, despite poor sound quality through over-micing. As for piano skills, he is a wizard of the keys. His piano interlude on the encore number, “Witch’s Brew,” was breathtaking. As a songwriter, especially drawing inspiration from his own life, as with “Palermo,” and with a social consciousness bent, “Goodbye Philadelphia” and “Nothing’s Enough,” there’s talent and potential. Cincotti is able to write engaging songs with worthy ideas that blessedly differentiate themselves. What’s always been evident about Peter Cincotti is that he has the makings of a first-class jazz artist. Perhaps there’s a future in that for him, and for those of us who hanker for the “old Peter” to return to his roots.

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Category: Cabaret Reviews, New York City, New York City Cabaret Reviews, Regional

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